One Dead In Shooting At US ‘Black Lives Matter’ Rally

In this file photo taken on June 01, 2020 NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square during a "Black Lives Matter" protest. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 01, 2020 NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square during a “Black Lives Matter” protest. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

One person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in the US state of Kentucky, police said.

The incident Saturday took place at Jefferson Square Park in the center of Louisville where protestors have gathered for weeks over the killing of African American woman Breonna Taylor.

Her death in March helped fuel a campaign against racism and police brutality in the United States that has since spread across the globe.

Louisville Metro Police Department said officers were called to the park at around 9:00 pm.

“Calls then came in that Sheriff’s Department personnel were in the park performing life-saving measures on a male who eventually died at the scene,” the department said on Twitter.

Soon after another person was shot across the street at the city’s Hall of Justice, police added.

It was unclear if there was more than one shooter and authorities have yet to release any details of the victims.

Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said he was “deeply saddened by the violence.”

Before the shooting, Fischer had urged counter-protesters to stay away from the park, after local newspaper Louisville Courier Journal reported that “armed patriot groups” were planning on confronting the demonstrators.

Louisville has seen especially passionate Black Lives Matter protests due to the police killing Taylor in her own apartment.

The 26-year-old emergency room technician was shot dead after police barged into her home, alleging that drug dealers had used the apartment to receive packages.

The case helped trigger fresh waves of anger in the United States over racial injustice and police brutality.

Those protests expanded dramatically after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

AFP

One Killed, 11 Injured In Minneapolis Shooting

BREAKING: 'Multiple Casualties' As Gunman Opens Fire At US Synagogue
File photo

 

One person died and 11 more were wounded in a shooting in the US city of Minneapolis, police said Sunday.

Images streamed live to Facebook showed at least one person lying on the pavement as dozens gather around — some screaming for medical help.

Other footage appeared to show businesses with shattered windows, and police cars at the scene.

“12 people have suffered gunshot wounds,” Minneapolis police wrote on Twitter, “1 adult male died and 11 have no -life-threatening wounds.”

They did not give the age of the man who died or say whether anyone was arrested.

Minneapolis has been a center of anti-racism and police brutality protests that have spread across the US since George Floyd, a black man, died while being restrained by a white officer.

AFP

US Shooting: Police Have Not Been Treated Fairly In Our Country – Trump

FUS President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

 

Donald Trump said Wednesday that US police have “not been treated fairly” and appeared to defend a white officer charged with the murder of a black man.

Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with murder Wednesday for shooting African American Rayshard Brooks in the back, and aggravated the case by kicking the 27-year-old as he lay on the ground bleeding.

The death of Brooks came less than three weeks after George Floyd died while being pinned down by Minneapolis police officers, fuelling a national uproar and anti-police brutality protests across the country.

“I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer,” Trump said of Brooks’ death in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country.

“But, again, you can’t resist a police officer like that. And they ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad.”

Trump also mentioned Floyd, saying he had been unable to watch the nearly nine-minute clip of Floyd’s death.

“Who could watch that?” he said.

On Tuesday Trump issued an order to improve policing — calling for a ban on dangerous chokeholds — but he has stopped well short of demands made at nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Critics, including the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have derided his efforts.

“The president’s weak executive order falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality,” she said in a statement this week.

Trump derided the Democrats during the Fox News interview, claiming: “They do nothing and they want to defund and they want to abolish, they want to abolish police departments.”

AFP

Tension In US As Police Officer Kills Another Black Man

us-police-shooting
This undated handout photo obtained June 14, 2020, courtesy of the Atlanta Police Department, shows Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe. Handout / The Atlanta Police Department / AFP

 

The fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer, this time in Atlanta, Georgia, poured more fuel Sunday on a raging US debate over racism after another round of street protests and the resignation of the city’s police chief.

A Wendy’s restaurant where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed was set on fire Saturday and hundreds of people marched to protest the killing.

Recorded on video and surveillance cameras, Brooks’s fatal encounter with police was the latest in a string of incidents that has sparked a wave of nationwide protests over police brutality.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a news conference Saturday that Police Chief Erika Shields had decided to step down.

“I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said. The officer who shot Brooks — identified as Garrett Rolfe — was dismissed.

The death drew expressions of outrage, shock and dismay in a country deeply shaken by civil unrest since the May 25 police killing in Minneapolis, Minnesota of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

James Clyburn, an African American member of Congress from South Carolina, said he was incensed.

“This did not call for lethal force. And I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that. It has got to be the culture. It’s got to be the system,” he said, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The latest protests come as lawmakers are debating how to reform a judicial system seen by critics as stacked against poor and minority citizens and which has proved stubbornly resistant to change.

Some activists on the left have taken up “defund the police” as a rallying cry, one that US President Donald Trump has jumped on to use as a cudgel against his Democratic rival for the White House, Joe Biden.

Biden, for his part, has tried to distance the party from the defund movement, instead advocating increased funding for community policing.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American congresswoman from Minnesota, called that idea “ludicrous” and instead supports dismantling troubled police forces in places like Minneapolis, her hometown, and rebuilding them from the ground up.

“Nobody is going to defund the  police,” said Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.

“The fact of the matter is, the police have a role to play,” he said. “What we have got to do is make sure that their role is one that meets the times, one that responds to these communities that they operate in,” he said.

– A struggle turns deadly –

In Atlanta, authorities pledged a full investigation into Brooks’s death.

The incident began when police responded to a complaint that Brooks was asleep in his car, blocking the drive-in lane at the Wendy’s restaurant.

Brooks allegedly failed a sobriety test administered by police, and when the officers tried to arrest him, a struggle broke out.

Video of the incident circulating on social media showed two white police officers wrestling Brooks to the ground in the parking lot.

One of them attempts to use a Taser on Brooks, but he manages to grab the stun gun and run away, the video images show.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which probes police-involved killings, also released restaurant surveillance video that showed Brooks turn and appear to fire the Taser at the officers.

An officer reaches for his service weapon, and as Brooks turns back “the weapon goes off,” GBI director Vic Reynolds told reporters.

Brooks was taken to the hospital but died after surgery, the GBI said, adding that one officer was injured.

An attorney acting for the dead man’s family said disproportionate force was used in the confrontation.

“In Georgia, a Taser is not a deadly weapon — that’s the law,” L. Chris Stewart told reporters.

“Support came, in I think two minutes. He would have been boxed in and trapped. Why did you have to kill him?”

“(The officer) had other options than shooting a man in the back.”

Brooks had four children, Stewart added, and had celebrated the birthday of his eight-year-old daughter earlier on Friday.

His death is the 48th shooting involving an officer that the GBI has been asked to investigate this year, according to local newspaper the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fifteen of those incidents were fatal.

AFP

Trump To Address Nation After US Shootings Leave 29 Dead

People hold up their phones in lieu of candles at an interfaith vigil for victims of a mass shooting, which left at least 20 people dead, on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old male suspect was taken into custody in the city which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 26 people were wounded. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

Trump will again find himself in the role of consoler-in-chief after a tragedy — which he has struggled with in the past — when he speaks at 10:00 am (1400 GMT).

Following the shootings, Trump said “hate has no place in our country,” but he also blamed mental illness for the violence.

“These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill,” he said, despite the fact that police have not confirmed this to be the case.

“We have to get it stopped. This has been going on for years… and years in our country,” he said.

In Texas, 26 people were wounded, and 27 in Ohio, where the shooter was killed in roughly 30 seconds by police who were patrolling nearby.

100-round drum magazine

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told a news conference that the quick police response was “crucial,” preventing the shooter from entering a bar where “there would have been… catastrophic injury and loss of life.”

Biehl said the shooter wore a mask and a bullet-proof vest and was armed with an assault rifle fitted with a 100-round drum magazine.

Police named the gunman as a 24-year-old white man called Connor Betts and said his sister was among those killed. She had gone with him to the scene of the shootings.

Six of the nine people shot dead were black, but Biehl said Betts’ motive was still unclear.

In Texas, police said the suspect surrendered on a sidewalk near the scene of the massacre. He was described in media reports as a 21-year-old white man named Patrick Crusius.

He was believed to have posted online a manifesto denouncing a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. El Paso, on the border with Mexico, is majority Latino.

 ‘Amplifying and condoning’ hate

Seven of the 20 people killed in the El Paso shooting were Mexican, the country’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said Sunday.

Ebrard, who will travel to El Paso Monday, said Mexico was looking at legal action which could lead to extradition of the gunman.

“For Mexico, this individual is a terrorist,” he said.

The manifesto posted shortly before the shooting also praises the killing of 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.

Police said the suspected shooter has been charged with murder offenses that can carry the death penalty, and a federal official said investigators are treating the El Paso shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.

At the Walmart in El Paso, terrified shoppers cowered in aisles or ran out of the store as gunfire echoed.

Most of the victims were inside the store but some were also in the parking lot outside, police said.

“Shooting kids and women and men, to him it mostly mattered that they were Hispanic,” said Manuel Sanchez, a resident of the city.

These were the 250th and 251st mass shootings this year in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an NGO that defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are wounded or killed.

Despite a string of horrific mass shootings in the US, where gun culture is deep-rooted, efforts to strengthen firearms regulations remain divisive.

The latest two shootings ended a particularly tragic week for gun violence in America: three people died in a shooting at a food festival last Sunday in California, and two more Tuesday in a shooting in a Walmart in Mississippi.

On Twitter, Trump described the El Paso attack as “an act of cowardice.”

But critics said the president’s habit of speaking in derogatory terms about immigrants is pushing hatred of foreigners into the political mainstream and encouraging white supremacism.

“To pretend that his administration and the hateful rhetoric it spreads doesn’t play a role in the kind of violence that we saw yesterday in El Paso is ignorant at best and irresponsible at worst,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, a major civil rights group.

It cited Trump actions like calling Mexican migrants rapists and drug dealers and doing nothing when a crowd at a Trump rally chanted “send her back” in reference to a Somali-born congresswoman.

The Republican mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, seemed to discount any race element to the Texas shooting, telling Fox News the gunman was “deranged.”

But multiple Democratic presidential hopefuls said Trump bears some of the blame for the violence.

“Our president isn’t just failing to confront and disarm these domestic terrorists, he is amplifying and condoning their hate,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted.

“Mr. President: stop your racist, hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Your language creates a climate which emboldens violent extremists,” Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter.

AFP

Two Killed, One Police Officer Injured In Walmart Store

Walmart in Middletown, DE, on July 26, 2019.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Two people died and a police officer was wounded in a shooting early Tuesday at a Walmart in Mississippi, US media reported.

DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that the suspect had been shot and wounded in the shooting in the city of Southhaven.

READ ALSO: China Anti-Graft Body Probes High-Level Xinjiang Official

The two people shot dead were believed to be Walmart employees, the sheriff said, and the suspect was an employee until Monday.

He said the suspect and wounded police officer had been taken to local hospitals.

Southhaven is a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, which lies just to the north over the state line.

AFP

Timeline Of US Mass Shootings

This photo shows a police car behind police tape blocking a street leading to the Jacksonville Landing area in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, August 26, 2018, where three people were killed, including the gunman, and 11 others wounded.

 

In the latest mass shooting in the United States, a gunman killed 12 people Thursday in a California music bar packed with college students.

Here is a recap of some of the other most deadly shootings in the country in the past 10 years.

 Las Vegas: 58 dead 

On October 1, 2017, a heavily armed “lone wolf” gunman opens fire from a 32-floor hotel room on an open-air concert on the Las Vegas Strip.

He kills 58 people before turning the gun on himself. Around 500 are wounded.

The Islamic State (IS) group claims the 64-year-old is one of its “soldiers” but the FBI says it finds no such connection.

Florida club: 49 killed 

A 29-year-old gunman opens fire inside a gay nightclub in the Florida city of Orlando on June 12, 2016, and kills 49 people.

The shooter, who pledged allegiance to the IS group in a 911 call during the attack, is killed in a shootout when police storm the building.

 Sandy Hook: 27 killed 

A 20-year-old man kills his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shooting dead 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults.

He commits suicide.

 Texas church: 26 dead 

A gunman opens fire with an assault rifle during a Sunday morning church service in the rural Texan community of Sutherland Springs on November 5, 2017, killing 26 people and wounding 20.

The gunman, aged 26, is found dead in his vehicle.

 Florida school: 17 dead 

A former student opens fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, killing 15 people on the premises with two dying in the hospital.

A 19-year-old who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons is arrested.

 California office party: 14 dead 

A newlywed radicalized Muslim couple storm a Christmas office party at a social services centre in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015, and gun down 14 people, wounding 22 others. They are shot dead by police.

Fort Hood military base: 13 dead 

On November 5, 2009 a US army psychiatrist opens fire at his military base in Killeen, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 42, before being overpowered by police.

 New York immigrant centre: 13 dead 

A Vietnamese immigrant shoots dead 13 people at a civic centre in the city of Binghamton, New York on April 3, 2009, before killing himself.

 Navy Yard: 12 dead 

A former serviceman shoots randomly at workers at the Washington Navy Yard, a military compound in southeast Washington, on September 16, 2013, killing 12 people before he is shot dead by officers.

Colorado cinema: 12 dead 

A young man wearing body armour storms a cinema showing a late-night premiere of a Batman film in Aurora, Colorado on July 20 2012, opening fire and releasing tear gas. Twelve people are killed and 70 wounded. He is sentenced to life in prison.

Synagogue: 11 dead 

A gunman opens fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in the northeastern city of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, killing 11 people before being taken into custody.

He reportedly yelled “All Jews must die!” during the attack.

High school: 10 dead 

A 17-year-old student bursts into a classroom and opens fire at the Santa Fe High School, near Houston, on May 18, 2008, killing 10 people.

The Grade 11 student, who uses a shotgun and revolver legally owned by his father, is taken into custody on murder charges.

 Alabama: 10 dead 

On March 10, 2009, a heavily armed gunman goes on a shooting spree in three towns in southern Alabama, mowing down 10 people including his mother and grandmother.

The 28-year-old turns a gun on himself after being cornered by police.

AFP

‘Multiple Injuries’ In Fresh US Shooting

'Multiple Casualties' As Gunman Opens Fire At US Synagogue
Police rapid response team members respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. JEFF SWENSEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

US fire department officials reported multiple injuries in a shooting at a bar and dance hall in southern California late Wednesday.

The incident was reported at the Borderline Bar and Grill in the town of Thousand Oaks, a quiet, upscale residential suburb of Los Angeles, as it hosted an event for college students.

“Firefighters and first responders are arriving on the scene of a report of a shooting at an establishment in @CityofTO. PD is working to secure the scene. Multiple injuries reported,” the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted.

The Los Angeles Times quoted a law enforcement official as saying at least 30 shots had been fired and that there were casualties.

An unnamed witness told the newspaper that someone ran into the bar around 11:30 pm and started shooting what looked to be a black pistol.

“He shot a lot, at least 30 times. I could still hear gunshots after everyone left,” the Times quoted the man as saying.

AFP

Two Dead, Several Wounded In US Yoga Studio Shooting – Police

Emergency personnel stationed outside the HotYoga Studio after a gunman opened fire inside on November 2, ,2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. The gunman also died from what appears a self inflicted gunshot wound according to police. Seven people have been admitted to the hospital. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images/AFP

 

A gunman killed two people and wounded five others at a yoga studio in Florida’s state capital Tallahassee before taking his own life, police said Saturday.

At approximately 5:47 pm on Friday, 40-year-old Scott Beierle “entered the business posing as a customer and began shooting patrons with a handgun without warning,” the Tallahassee Police Department said in a statement.

“Patrons fought the assailant to prevent him from harming themselves and others. The assailant then turned the gun on himself and died on scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

It said two women, Nancy Van Vessem and Maura Binkley, aged 61 and 21 respectively, were killed. Two other women were in “stable condition,” while two more women and a man were treated and release from hospital.

Beierle, a graduate of Florida State University with prior military service, had previously been the subject of police calls for harassing young women, according to the statement.

The investigation is ongoing, and police have yet to establish a link between the shooter and the victims and yoga business.

The gunman had posted on YouTube videos of himself giving violent racist and misogynistic speeches, according to BuzzFeed.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor of Florida and cut short a campaign event to return to the city, tweeted: “I’m deeply appreciative of law enforcement’s quick response to the shooting at the yoga facility in Tallahassee today.”

“No act of gun violence is acceptable. I’m in close communication with law enforcement officials and will be returning to Tallahassee tonight,” Gillum added.

The yoga studio’s Facebook page received dozens of messages of support, including from elsewhere in Florida, the US and abroad.

“Sending prayers, love and peace for healing the Tallahassee yoga community,” read a comment by Facebook user Melissa Gregory.

“May blessings be restored in this studio and all yogis who share this space. Namaste!”

AFP

US Synagogue Victims Remembered As Devoted Community Anchors

Tammy Hepps, Kate Rothstein and her daughter, Simone Rothstein, 16, pray from a prayer book a block away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP

 

Among the 11 people slain at a synagogue in Pittsburgh were beloved pillars of their community whose loss is being mourned by many.

Authorities have now released the identities of the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

Here are names and details about the victims, and how they have been remembered:

Rose Mallinger 

The oldest victim of the shooting was Rose Mallinger, 97, a former secretary who was a “lovely lady,” Robin Friedman told CNN.

She was “full of life” and had “so much energy,” Brian Schreiber, a member of the Tree of Life synagogue, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Her daughter Andrea Wedner was also at the synagogue during the attack and was wounded, Schreiber said.

 Bernice and Sylvan Simon 

Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86, were a married couple killed in the shooting.

Their neighbour Jo Stepaniak told CNN they were “the sweetest people you could imagine” and “were loving and giving and kind.”

“They wanted to give back to people and be kind,” said Stepaniak.

 Melvin Wax 

Melvin Wax was a retired accountant who was reported to have been either 87 or 88 years old.

“Mel was a quiet, simple, honest, religious, kind, generous man,” Bill Cartiff told People.

“He was just a quiet man, and he was hard of hearing and soft-spoken, so he couldn’t hear you well and it was hard to hear him. He was sweet and you maybe had to have a little bit of tolerance for his awful jokes, which he incessantly told.”

Irving Younger 

Irving Younger, 69, was remembered as a regular at Tree of Life services and a “consistent volunteer,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw this gunman walk into the room where the services were and his first thought was ‘Can I help this stranger get settled?’ — until he saw what the stranger was doing — because that’s the kind of thought that he would have,” former Tree of Life president Barton Schacter told the Post-Gazette.

 Jerry Rabinowitz  

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, was a doctor who “was more than just a physician for me and my family; for over three decades he was truly a trusted confidant and healer,” Lawrence Claus told People.

“He had a truly uplifting demeanour, and as a practising physician he was among the very best,” Claus said.

Rabinowitz was Susan Blackman’s family doctor, and “he was like a member of the family, and a member of the extended family,” she told CNN.

 Joyce Fienberg 

Joyce Fienberg, 75, was a native of Toronto, Canada and a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

“She was a very petite woman but lit up a room with her huge personality. We weren’t just welcome in the classroom, but into their home,” Jason Connor, one of her former students, told CNN.

“Everyone says this, but she really was an enormously caring person.”

Daniel Stein 

Daniel Stein, 71, was retired and was a frequent attendee at the Tree of Life synagogue, CNN reported.

“My dad was a simple man and did not require much,” his son Joe wrote on his Facebook page.

“My mom, sister and I are absolutely devastated and crushed! Our lives now are going to have to take a different path, one that we thought would not happen for a long time,” he wrote.

“We love you dad more than you’ll ever know!”

 Richard Gottfried 

Richard Gottfried, 65 was a dentist and part of an interfaith couple.

He and his wife Margaret Durachko “embraced one another and our families in faith,” an employee at the Catholic church she attended told People.

“It was impressive how supportive they were of one another in practising their faiths,” his cousin Judy Weitzman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

 David and Cecil Rosenthal 

Brothers David Rosenthal, 54, and Cecil Rosenthal, 59, were the youngest people killed in the Tree of Life attack.

“Cecil and David had a love for life and for those around them. They loved their community. They spent a lot of time at the Tree of Life, never missing a Saturday,” Chris Schopf, who managed the home where they lived, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

They would sit in the back of the Tree of Life and greet people as they came in, Suzan Hauptman told CNN.

AFP

‘Multiple Casualties’ As Gunman Opens Fire At US Synagogue

'Multiple Casualties' As Gunman Opens Fire At US Synagogue
PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 27: Police rapid response team members respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. JEFF SWENSEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

A gunman opened fire at a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh on Saturday, reportedly killing at least four people and injuring others before being taken into custody.

Officials did not immediately confirm a motive for the attack at the synagogue, where dozens of people were understood to be celebrating Shabbat services on the Jewish Sabbath, and which comes with the United States witnessing a sharp spike in anti-Semitic incidents.

US television networks reported that at least four people had died, while the local CBS affiliate reported that eight people were dead.

“Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh,” tweeted US President Donald Trump. “Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities.”

A police spokesman addressing reporters at the scene confirmed “multiple casualties” and said three officers were shot before the shooter was taken into custody.

The condition of the officers was not immediately clear.

Police were still clearing the building, the official said.

A woman at the scene told CNN that her daughter was with others who ran down the stairs and barricaded themselves in the basement of the synagogue after hearing shots.

“They’re safe, but they kept hearing them firing and everything else,” she told the television network.

CNN broadcast footage of police cars, ambulances and a police SWAT team outside the place of worship.

The Tree of Life Synagogue is about five miles (eight kilometres) east of downtown Pittsburgh in the residential Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

Pittsburgh’s Public Safety department, which includes the police, declared earlier that an active shooter was in the area near the synagogue, urging residents to stay away.

“There are multiple casualties,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Police Commander Jason Lando as saying.

It is the latest shooting incident in the United States, where gunmen regularly cause mass casualties and firearms are linked to more than 30,000 deaths annually.

Michael Eisenberg, past president of the Tree of Life synagogue, told CNN that the door would typically have been open on Saturdays with religious services going on. He said police are normally deployed only on High Holy Days — the holiest annual Jewish religious holidays.

He said security was a “major concern” during his stint as president, and active shooting situations and active shooter trainings were conducted, “if something horrific like this happened.

The motive of the shooting was not immediately clear, but anti-Semitism and hate crimes have been on a rise in the United States in recent years.

On Friday, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, published an op-ed in the Washington Post newspaper decrying a rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Such episodes nearly doubled last year, reflecting a nationwide spike in anti-Semitism, when incidents increased 57 percent, to 1,986, from 1,267, according to the ADL.

Squirrel Hill has historically been the center of Jewish life in the greater Pittsburgh and is home to 26 percent of all Pittsburgh-area Jewish households, according to a study from Brandeis University.

More than 80 percent of the neighborhood’s residents said they had some concern or were very concerned about rising anti-Semitism, found the 2017 study.

The Tree of Life congregation was founded more than 150 years ago and in 2010 merged with the five-year-old Or L’Simcha congregation.

AFP

Gunman Kills Wife, Four Others In US

This photo shows a police car behind police tape blocking a street leading to the Jacksonville Landing area in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, August 26, 2018, where three people were killed, including the gunman, and 11 others wounded. Credit:AFP

 

A man went on a shooting rampage in California on Wednesday, killing five people including his wife, before taking his own life.

The shooting at multiple locations in Bakersfield in central California was possibly “a domestic violence incident,” said Lieutenant Mark King of the Kern County sheriff’s office.

Police received their first call at 5:19 pm before responding to the first location, a trucking company, where the rampage began.

Three people were killed there and the shooter, armed with a large caliber hand gun, fled.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters that the suspect first shot a man at the trucking company and then killed his own wife. He chased a person who had witnessed the shooting and killed that person, too.

He then fled and shot a couple at a house.

Police then received a call from a woman who said she had been carjacked, King told AFP.

Officers gave chase and the suspect pulled into a business, got out of the car and shot himself, he said.

King said police were investigating five scenes and interviewing some 30 witnesses to determine what triggered the rampage. The names of the victims have not been released, but they were all from the Bakersfield area, located some 90 miles north of Los Angeles, King said.

“We don’t believe anyone else was involved and the only suspect was accounted for,” he said.

Youngblood said the officer who confronted the suspect after the carjacking wore a body camera, but the footage has not been released.

“Obviously, these are not random shootings,” said Youngblood, while denouncing the fact that such mass shooting were “the new normal.”

It was the latest chapter of America’s epidemic of gun violence.

Americans make up only four percent of the global population but they own 40 percent of the world’s firearms, according to a recent study published by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

Of the 857 million guns owned by civilians, 393 million are in the United States — more than all of the firearms held by ordinary citizens in the other top 25 countries combined, according to the Small Arms Survey.

According to Gun Violence Archive, the mass shooting in Bakersfield is the third deadliest in the United States this year after a shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in February that left 17 people dead and one at a school in Santa Fe, Texas, in May that left 10 people dead.

The shootings have drawn impassioned pleas for stricter gun control.

Following the Parkland shooting, teenage activists, many of them friends of the victims, galvanized a movement for gun control by organizing marches and school walkouts that kept the issue in the headlines for weeks.

The outrage prompted Florida to pass the first gun control measure in the state in 20 years.

AFP