U.S. President Donald Trump hit out Saturday at what he called “hate” in America after a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing and injuring several people.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world,” Trump told reporters before leaving for a series of campaign events in Indiana and Illinois. “Something has to be done,” said the president. “When people do this, they should get the death penalty.”
As local media reported the death toll in Pennsylvania could be as high as eight people, Trump said the shooting appeared “far more devastating than anybody originally thought.”
“The world is a violent world,” he said, calling the suspect “a madman, a whacko.”
Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
Asked whether it was time to revisit the country’s lenient gun laws, the president suggested instead that the toll might have been far lower had armed guards been posted in the synagogue, which they reportedly do only on the religion’s High Holy Days.
“If they had protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation,” he said. “They didn’t.”
But Trump did call for stiffer penalties and speedier justice.
“I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue,” he said. “Anybody who does a thing like this to innocent people in temple, in church… they should really suffer the ultimate price.”
America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-semite.
All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh.
We must unite against hatred & evil.
God bless those affected
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) October 27, 2018
Over the past 10 years in the U.S., there have been mass shootings at a Texas church (26 people died), at a mainly African American church in South Carolina (nine dead), at two Jewish centers in Kansas City, Kansas (three dead), at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin (six dead, plus the shooter), and at a Unitarian church in Tennessee (two dead).
Asked if all churches and synagogues should have armed guards, Trump replied, “I hate to think of it that way.”
He then added: “Certainly you want protection. They didn’t have any protection. … Results could have been much better.”
In his turn, Vice President Mike Pence called the deadly shooting an assault on the U.S. freedom of religion.
“What happened in Pittsburgh today was not just criminal it was evil, an attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our freedom of religion,” he said. “There’s no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism and this evil must end.”
What happened in Pittsburgh today was not just criminal – it was evil – an attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our Freedom of Religion. There's no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism, and this evil must end. pic.twitter.com/ZDiJMoBAYE
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 27, 2018
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization focused on combatting anti-Semitism, called the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”
“It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this violent attack — the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the United States since 2014 — occurs at time when ADL has reported a historic increase in both anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Semitic online harassment,” Greenblatt added, appearing to refer to a Kansas City attack that left three dead.