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A threat on home turf: October’s fatal synagogue shooting

Star of David memorials sit outside of the Tree of Life synagogue in remembrance of the deceased

Gene J. Puskar

Star of David memorials sit outside of the Tree of Life synagogue in remembrance of the deceased

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A peaceful and affluent neighborhood in in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was struck by tragedy last week as a mass shooting took the lives of eleven people and injured six others. Officials have labeled it the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S history.

It was just shy of 10 AM on Saturday, October 27, when screams and gunshots erupted from inside the Tree of Life synagogue walls in Squirrel Hill. With three loaded handguns and one rifle, forty-six year old Robert Bowers stormed the building for a suspected twenty minute rampage.

Reinforcements arrived within five minutes of receiving the 911 call and exchanged shots with Bowers, who was trying to escape. Two officers suffered gunshot wounds before the suspect was put into custody.

Taylor Basen, a college student at Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University, was driving through Squirrel Hill as the police and SWAT surrounded the synagogue. She says, “It was like a scene from a movie, my family and I just sat there frozen for a second in silence. It’s hard to believe that this sort of thing can happen anywhere, even in your own backyard.”

When she went to Church the next morning, Basen reported feeling unsafe and on edge as she “made a mental note of what she would do if a shooter were to enter the building”. She sat in the back, next to an emergency exit, with the victims of Saturday’s shooting on her mind. In a place meant for sanction, she was afraid.

All the way on the other side of the country, I was feeling the same way that Sunday morning. The fear of what could happen was overwhelming and I found myself compulsively checking my surroundings, almost waiting for something to happen. The looming threat of danger was the only thing I could process. This feeling lasted until I was in my own home, and even then the tinges of fear were not completely gone. So I wonder, if not in our own homes and churches, where can we go to feel safe? How do we heal from this?

It was a senseless and devastating crime that directed shockwaves of grief throughout the country. There is no perfect solution to this growing devastation, but at the very least we need to try. As we mourn the lost and pick up the pieces, let the impact of this situation bring us together so we may figure out where to go from here.

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About the Writer
G. Lam, Reporter

Hey there! My name is G. Lam, and I’m currently in my sophomore year of high school. My interests include playing volleyball, writing (poetry, essays,...

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A threat on home turf: October’s fatal synagogue shooting