Shootings at Houses of Worship: Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Was Among the Deadliest

A vigil was held on Saturday after a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh left 11 dead.CreditCreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

Source: New York Times

Once again, a gunman entered a house of worship and opened fire.

This time, it was a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed and six others were injured on Saturday.

Mass shootings have become a recurring part of American life, and religious institutions a recurring setting. In each case, the shock is compounded by the violence at what is supposed to be a safe space for peace and healing.

[A man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue where three congregations worshiped.]

Here is a look at what happened in some of the deadliest mass shootings at houses of worship in recent years.

Shootings at Houses of Worship: Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Was Among the Deadliest

Twenty-six people, including eight members of one family, were killed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

A gunman stormed into a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., last year and opened fire during a Sunday service, killing 26 people and wounding 20 more.

The authorities said Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was clad in all black, with a ballistic vest strapped to his chest and armed with a military-style rifle, when he quickly attacked the small church, pausing only to reload.

Mr. Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Law enforcement authorities have said the shooting might have stemmed from a dispute between Mr. Kelley and his mother-in-law. She and several others from that side of the family were regulars at the church. But on the morning of the shooting, Mr. Kelley’s mother-in-law was at home with her grandson.

Among those killed were several children, the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter and eight members of a single family.

In 2015, a gunman attacked a Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

In 2015, a white gunman killed nine black parishioners at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C.

Dylann S. Roof, a self-radicalized white supremacist, confessed to the killings.

Mr. Roof, then 21, entered through an unlocked side door of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and took a seat at a weekly Bible study meeting. He had brought with him a semiautomatic pistol that he concealed in a pack on his waist.

When the congregants closed their eyes for a familiar benediction, the sound of gunfire roared through the fellowship hall. Churchgoers dove below tables but Mr. Roof kept firing, striking the victims at least 60 times.

Mr. Roof was charged with 33 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death. He was found guilty in 2016 and sentenced to death last year.

At Emanuel A.M.E. Church, a bedrock of black Charleston that was founded in 1791, doors that were once left open have had to be locked since the shooting. The church has used retired military and on- and off-duty police officers for security.

Willi Glee, a member of the church, said last year that religious spaces offer an added attraction for some attacks because defiling them is the ultimate taboo. “Everybody expects that a house of worship is a safe place,” he said.

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