Washington | US President Donald Trump has visited the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were killed in an anti-Semitic attack and met the widow of one of the victims and three law enforcement personnel who were injured in the mass shooting that shook the nation.
The shooter, Robert Gregory Bowers, armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns, shouted anti-Semitic slurs and opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing 11 people, in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in the US history.
First Lady Melania Trump accompanied the President. His daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jarred Kushner also travelled with them when they visited the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue in Pittsburg where the mass shooting took place.
At the synagogue, the President met with Rabbi Myers. While inside the synagogue, the first couple lit candles in honour of each of those killed, the White House said. They were in the vestibule but did not enter the crime scene area.
The rabbi walked through the history of the temple and walked the President and the first lady through a lot of the detail of what happened on the day. The rabbi talked a lot about the bravery of the law enforcement. The President was incredibly impressed by the rabbi, an absolutely incredible man, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.
“The President was very moved by the visit and his time with the rabbi and called it very humbling and very sad,” she said. At the hospital, Trump met with three members of the law enforcement agencies and doctors, including one of the first responders who’d been shot seven times and was there with his family.
“The President was incredibly moved… also how supportive all of the law enforcement members were for one another,” Sanders said. Trump then spent about an hour with the widow of Dr Richard Godfrey. “She said that she wanted to meet the President to let him know that people wanted him there. He spent about an hour talking with her,” Sanders said.
According to the Press Secretary, Trump “said it was a great honour to be in Pittsburgh with the first lady, to be with such incredible people who had shown such bravery”. Sanders said the stones and flowers Mr Trump and Mrs Trump placed at the memorial were from one of the White House gardens.
Trump’s visit to Pittsburg was, however, marked with hundreds of protests gathered near the synagogue. They were singing and carrying signs expressing disapproval with Trump’s visit and rhetoric. Sanders said by visiting the synagogue, the President wanted to show his respect on behalf of the entire country, and to represent the country in this moment and be there to show their support.
Responding to a question, Sanders said she was not sure whether the President was able to see evidence of the shooting when he went into the vestibule at ‘Tree of Life’, but said a lot of the FBI personnel who were on site investigating had met him there and he shook hands with them. Rabbi Myers provided information about the biographies of the victims, she said.
The President, she said, has been very clear on anti-Semitism or hate and has spoken on it a number of times, she said. “He wanted today to be about showing respect for the families and the friends of the victims as well as for Jewish Americans,” Sanders added.