The mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue reportedly happened during a ceremony for the children of a gay couple.
The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a local LGBTQ group, told its community members on social media that the violent attack occurred during a bris — a Jewish rite of male circumcision — for the couple's adopted twins.
Their identities have not yet been made public, but three sources from the community conveyed this information to Delta, a representative from the organization told The Advocate. Final confirmation from a partner Jewish foundation is forthcoming.*
"We were just informed that this morning's tragedy was happening during a Briss for a set of twins adopted by a gay couple," the organization posted Saturday on Facebook, in a post that has since been edited to exclude this information, pending the final confirmation. "Our hearts and prayers go out to all that were involved including the members of the Synagogue, law-enforcement and first responders."
"We have witnessed the worst of America this morning in our town Pittsburgh. More than ever we must come together as people and change the temperament of our country," the statement concluded.
There are a reported 11 fatalities and six injured in the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation. After surrendering to police, assailant Robert D. Bowers said he "wanted all Jews to die," according to a Pittsburgh police report. Bowers was charged with 29 criminal accounts by federal officials.
LGBTQ groups and public figures have condemned the bigotry that fueled this attack. In the immediate wake of the shooting, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, noted how the likely hate crime was "motivated by anti-Semitism."
"Our hearts are with the community of the Tree of Life Synagogue, the first responders who bravely rushed into danger to save lives, the people of Pittsburgh, and all those impacted by this tragic act of hate violence," Griffin said in a statement released by the LGBTQ organization.
Sarah McBride, HRC's national press secretary, likewise called out the "real, insidious, and pervasive" anti-Semitism in the United States. The Tree of Life shooting is the deadliest attack on the country's Jewish community in decades.
In his statement, Griffin also outlined a recent history of mass shootings, including the 2016 attack on the gay nightclub Pulse, to underscore the urgent need for gun reform in the U.S.
President Trump pushed back against the call for gun reform; in fact, he told reports that gun laws had "little" to do with the shooting. After the massacre, the Republican politician called for bringing "back the death penalty" through legislation; he also said armed guards at the temple "might have been able to stop [the shooter] immediately,” reports the New York Post.
George Takei, the gay Star Trek actor and activist, joined a chorus of those criticizing Trump for his response. "Let’s stop with the good-guy-with-a-gun fantasy. Let’s start with getting AR-15s off the market," Takei stated on Twitter.
*As of Monday, November 5, Delta has not received a statement from its partnering Jewish organization. Meanwhile, sources have told The Forward, a Jewish publication, that no bris ooccurredthe day of the shooting.