Pittsburgh synagogue massacre leaves 11 dead, 6 wounded
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A gunman who’s believed to have spewed anti-Semitic slurs and rhetoric on social media barged into a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday and opened fire, killing 11 people in one of the deadliest attacks on Jews in U.S. history.
The 20-minute attack at Tree of Life Congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood left six others wounded, including four police officers who dashed to the scene, authorities said.
The suspect, Robert Bowers, traded gunfire with police and was shot several times. Bowers, who was in fair condition at a hospital, was charged late Saturday with 29 federal counts, including hate crimes and weapons offenses. It wasn’t immediately known if Bowers had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
“Please know that justice in this case will be swift and it will be severe,” Scott Brady, the chief federal prosecutor in western Pennsylvania, said at a news conference, characterizing the slaughter as a “terrible and unspeakable act of hate.”
The mass shooting came amid a rash of high-profile attacks in an increasingly divided country, one day after a Florida man was arrested and charged with mailing a series of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and little more than a week before the midterm elections.
Trump calls Pittsburgh synagogue attack ‘evil’ anti-Semitism
MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) — President Donald Trump mourned the dead and forcefully condemned anti-Semitism Saturday after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead. But faced with another national tragedy, he did not long turn his focus away from the midterm elections or himself.
Nine days from elections that will determine the control of Congress, Trump stuck to his plans to appear at an agricultural convention and a political rally. Throughout the day, he expressed sorrow, called for justice and bemoaned hate, getting regular updates on the shooting. But he also campaigned for candidates, took shots at favorite Democratic targets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and made jokes about his hair.
At a massive rally in southern Illinois for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, Trump condemned the shooting as an “evil anti-Semitic attack.” But he said cancelling his appearance would make “sick, demented people important.” He pledged to change his tone for the evening and did cool some of his most fiery rhetoric.
The slaughter at Sabbath services followed a tense week dominated by a mail bomb plot with apparent political motivations and served as another toxic reminder of a divided nation. It also again underscored Trump’s reluctance to step into the role of national unifier at tense moments as well as his singular focus heading into elections that could dramatically change his presidency.
Trump acknowledged the weight these moments carry, telling reporters that experiencing such events as president, “it’s a level of terribleness and horror that you can’t even believe. It’s hard to believe.”
Suspect in synagogue slayings spewed online hate for Jews
WASHINGTON (AP) — The man arrested in the mass shooting Saturday at a Pennsylvania synagogue appears to have made virulently anti-Semitic posts on a social media platform popular with far-right extremists, including one made shortly before the attack.
Police have identified the suspect as Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh. A man with the same name posted on the site Gab.com on the morning of the shooting that “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
HIAS is a Maryland-based nonprofit group that helps refugees around the world find safety and freedom. The organization says it is guided by Jewish values and history. President and CEO Mark Hetfield said he wasn’t aware of the shooter’s “obsession with HIAS until this morning.”
The shooter opened fire at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people and wounding at least six others including four police officers. Bowers was wounded in a shootout with police and was reported to be in custody Saturday at a nearby hospital.
President Donald Trump characterized the mass shooting as an anti-Semitic attack and law enforcement officials said they were investigating it as a hate crime.
Mail bomb suspect’s personality changed radically
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Thirteen years ago, mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc traveled the country leading a mixed-race troupe of male exotic dancers — he ran scams and had a temper, but a fellow dancer who is African-American said he never expressed racism or homophobia.
Years later, working as a pizza driver, Sayoc would often express hatred for minorities, Jews and gays, his manager said. He drove a van plastered with stickers supporting President Donald Trump, criticizing media outlets and showing rifle crosshairs over liberals like Hillary Clinton and filmmaker Michael Moore. But she kept him around, even though she is a lesbian, because he was honest, dependable and never got into fights.
Why Sayoc changed so radically over the years remains a mystery, but to those who know him, there seems little question that he did.
“We were friends, we were boys, we traveled in the same van, slept in the same room,” said former dancer David Crosby, who is black. “When I think of the guy I knew and the guy I see now on MSNBC, CNN and at Trump rallies, I think, ‘Did he really slip?'” He thinks Trump’s sometimes bombastic criticism of liberals may have pushed Sayoc over the edge .
“He really wasn’t a bad guy,” a puzzled Crosby said.
DNA, fingerprint match: How FBI uncovered bomb suspect’s ID
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the hours before his arrest, as federal authorities zeroed in and secretly accumulated evidence, Cesar Sayoc was in his element: spinning classic and Top 40 hits in a nightclub where he’d found work as a DJ in the last two months.
As he entertained patrons from a dimly lit booth overlooking a stage of dancers at the Ultra Gentlemen’s Club, where Halloween decorations hung in anticipation of a costume party, he could not have known that investigators that very evening were capitalizing on his own mistakes to build a case against him.
He almost certainly had no idea that lab technicians had linked DNA on two pipe bomb packages he was accused of sending prominent Democrats to a sample of on file with Florida state authorities. Or that a fingerprint match had turned up on a separate mailing the authorities say he sent.
And he was probably unaware that investigators scouring his social media accounts had found the same spelling mistakes on his online posts — “Hilary” Clinton, Deborah Wasserman “Shultz” — as on the mailings he’d soon be charged with sending.
In the end, prosecutors who charged Sayoc with five federal crimes Friday say the fervent President Donald Trump supporter unwittingly left behind a wealth of clues, affording them a critical break in a coast-to-coast investigation into pipe bomb mailings that spread fear of election-season violence.
Many of bomb suspect’s conspiracy theories tracked Trump’s
LONDON (AP) — Mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc lived in an alternate universe where monstrous reptiles stalk people in Florida’s Everglades, a malevolent Jewish billionaire pays American children to stage school shootings and German politicians are secretly being conceived using Adolf Hitler’s frozen sperm.
Sayoc’s hallucinatory world, pieced together by The Associated Press from the digital residue of his now-disabled Twitter accounts, gives a hint of the toxic news diet of the Florida man who stands accused of mailing pipe bombs to more than a dozen of the United States’ most prominent left-leaning public figures. But Sayoc’s stew of animal gore and partisan hate does more than provide insight into the man arrested in his van in Miami on Friday. It also gives a taste of how conspiracy theories are finding an increased salience in American public sphere — and a sometime-eager purveyor in the White House.
“They are more prominent in our political discourse,” said Joseph Uscinski, the co-author of “American Conspiracy Theories,” who explained that President Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 in part by bringing “conspiracy-minded Republicans” to the polling booths.
Trump has since disavowed one of his trademark conspiracies — the lie that Barak Obama was born in Kenya — but he continues to cling to others, including the false claims that he saw thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks on television and that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“You have to dance with the person who takes you to the prom,” said Uscinski. “He has to keep motivating these people, keep speaking their language.”
Flush North Carolina Democrats hope to reverse GOP control
MEBANE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s energized and financially flush Democratic Party is casting its get-out-the-vote net this year into areas once ceded to rivals as it strives to wrest the legislature from Republicans and end a long-running battle between lawmakers and the executive branch.
The party has its work cut out for it: Although North Carolina has come to be seen as a swing state nationally, its state legislature is as deeply Republican as anywhere in the South, with veto-proof GOP supermajorities in both houses — aided by favorable redistricting — and many seats Democrats never even bothered to contest.
For the first time in recent history, Democrats offered candidates for all 170 state seats, echoing a strong push by Democrats across the country to tap into voter dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump’s presidency and anger over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The party is trying to flip nearly two dozen U.S. House seats to regain control of the chamber. Republicans are trying to maintain a slim Senate majority and defend several governors’ mansions.
In North Carolina, some hope for a large-enough wave to take control of the legislature for the first time since 2011. A more attainable goal would be to end the veto-proof majorities, which would require them to gain four seats in the House or six in the Senate. To gain control of both chambers, they would need to win 16 House and 11 Senate seats.
Mexico torn between stopping, aiding migrant caravan
TAPANATEPEC, Mexico (AP) — The Mexican government seems torn between stopping several thousand Central American migrants from traveling toward the U.S. border in a caravan or burnishing its international human rights image.
On Saturday, more than a hundred federal police dressed in riot gear blocked a rural highway in southern Mexico shortly before dawn to encourage the migrants to apply for refugee status in Mexico rather than continuing the long, arduous journey north. U.S. President Donald Trump has urged Mexico to prevent the caravan from reaching the border.
Police let the caravan proceed after representatives from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission convinced them that a rural stretch of highway without shade, toilets or water was no place for migrants to entertain an offer of asylum. Many members of the caravan have been travelling for more than two weeks, since a group first formed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Not long after the caravan resumed the trek north Saturday, government officials were seen for the first time directly helping the migrants by giving rides in trucks and providing water along the scorching highway.
Martin Rojas, an agent from Mexico’s migrant protection agency Grupo Beta, said he and his fellow agents planned to use agency pickup trucks to help stragglers catch up with the caravan.
Red Sox to start lefty Rodriguez against Dodgers in Game 4
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will start Game 4 for the Boston Red Sox against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The Red Sox announced the decision on Twitter about four hours before Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have yet to confirm their starter.
Boston leads the best-of-seven Series 2-1.
The Dodgers won 3-2 early Saturday after Max Muncy’s homer leading off the 18th inning ended the longest game in Series history.
Rodriguez returns after throwing just six pitches in striking out Joc Pederson for the final out of the fifth inning Friday.
Trump again stoking anger at Democrats, media
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump is again stoking his supporters’ anger at “Crooked Hillary,” other Democrats and the news media, barely missing a beat after mail bombs were sent to some of the most frequent targets of his derision.
Trump set aside some of his usual name-calling at a rally in Wisconsin earlier in the week and made a short-lived plea for unity as authorities pressed ahead with an investigation and intercepted more than a dozen pipe bombs meant for former President Barack Obama, Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, other prominent Democrats and CNN.
But after the arrest in Florida of a Trump supporter now charged in the attacks, Trump was back in familiar form at a Charlotte rally Friday night. His reference to “Crooked Hillary Clinton” prompted chants of “Lock her up” and a joke from the president: “Oh boy, they’re going to be reporting about you tonight.”
He assailed the media at length, accusing reporters of trying “to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points” against him. The crowd broke into frequent chants of “CNN sucks!”
California Rep. Maxine Waters, frequently dubbed “low IQ” by Trump, earned a mention as well. She was one of the targets of the pipe bomber. None of the intercepted bombs exploded and no one was hurt.
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