Chicago police step up patrols near synagogues after Pittsburgh shooting

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First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Chicago police were ordered to provide “special attention” to synagogues across the city as a precaution on Saturday after a mass shooting left 11 people dead at a temple in Pittsburgh.

“Our hearts are with the people of Pittsburgh, the Jewish community, the law enforcement community, and the families of each of the victims, in the wake of this terrible tragedy,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in a joint statement.

“While there are no threats to religious institutions in Chicago at this time, the Chicago Police Department is closely monitoring this situation and providing special attention to all synagogues throughout Chicago.”

The announcement came after a man opened fire during a baby-naming ceremony on Saturday morning at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Eleven people were killed and six others — including four police officers who rushed to the scene — were injured, authorities said.

The suspected gunman was taken into custody. Authorities said hate crime charges would be filed in the case.

“It’s a horrible thing. It’s bad enough that it’s a house of worship but the fact that it was a new life being celebrated makes it even worse,” said Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. “Unfortunately, we go through this too often.”

Nasatir said he had spoken to his counterpart in Pittsburgh, Jeff Finkelstein, who called the day “the worst … of his life.” Finkelstein wasn’t at the synagogue but lives nearby.

Nasatir said Chicago’s Jewish community would hold a solidarity Shabbat next week for all denominations.

“The answer to hate is to encourage all Jewish people to go to synagogue to stand in solidarity and prayer,” he said. “We’re not going to let this change the way we live our lives or how we identify ourselves. We’re going to stay strong and hopefully find a way to rid our country of this hate and violence.”

Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is Jewish, said she was “horrified” by the attack.

“Gun violence and anti-Semitism tore through a place of worship today and shook a nation. Both must be addressed with meaningful action,” she said in a statement. “We cannot allow this terrorism to intimidate us. As we mourn and rebuild, we must work to ensure that mass shootings and violent acts of hatred become a thing of the past in America.”

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