Pittsburgh comes together in wake of horrific synagogue shooting

While this community grieves for the innocent lives lost, neighbors of all ages and creeds are coming together to support one another.
11:16 | 10/30/18

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Transcript for Pittsburgh comes together in wake of horrific synagogue shooting
Shots fired. Shots fired. Reporter: The peace of the seventh morning shattered. Something innately told me that's a semiautomatic rifle. Reporter: Rabbi Jeffrey Meyer was there. I announced to my congregation, drop to the floor, be still. Reporter: He hustled three of them to safety and placed a 911 call all as gunshots rang out. What kind of things were you hearing and what was going on? Rapid succession of shots. It sounds like roughly five or six at a time and I'm hearing people screaming and it's seared in my brain. I can't erase that tape. Reporter: Another shooting in another house of worship. This time in Pittsburgh, 11 people killed and 6 others wounded. The murders underscoring a disturbing national trend. Anti-semitic incidents reported in this country have surged up 57%. Saturday morning members of three congregations gathered inside this 65-year-old temple. A baby naming ceremony about to start when suddenly a gunman burst into the house of worship. As soon as he came into the lobby he opened fire. Reporter: According to the FBI the alleged gunman carried an assault-style rifle, three handguns and hatred towards Jews. In under a minute S.W.A.T. Teams descended on the tree lined streets of squirrel hill, the residential neighborhood where 40% of the neighborhood is jewish. At least one caller sounded like they may have been shot. Reporter: Police officers then storming the synagogue running directly into the line of fire. Two officers wounded. The gunman retreating farther into the synagogue, congregants hiding under pews and closets. We were trying to disguise ourselves as bags of clothing in a room of bags of clothing. Reporter: Rabbi Meyers taking shelter on the second floor then in a bathroom and he prepared himself for the worst. How grateful were you to see them when they came in? Immensely. I really thought I was dead. I was going to -- I was going to make a video for myself in hopes maybe they'd find the cell phone. Reporter: A photographer snapped this picture of him hustling across the street still draped in his prayer shawl. So it's definitely -- Reporter: Across the street Kim and Kenneth harden heard the gunfire then a knock on the door. It was the police. It wasn't much of a choice. Reporter: A sniper set up in their bedroom window. As the couple watched they could see survivors coming out. The police were urging them, hurry, hurry. Reporter: The couple then hearing a barrage of gunfire. Sounded like a full-on gun battle. It did. Reporter: That war zone a gunfight ensuing on the third floor where the shoot I had fled. Shots fired. Give me additional reorganizations. Additional resources third floor. We got a guy barricaded. Reporter: Two additional officers wounded in the cross fire. One of the other officers drug him out of the room. Someone took his helmet off and carried him down the stairs. Reporter: And shooting right above your head. You're working on this officer as there's a gun battle feet away from you. Reporter: The suspect firing and spewing hatred during that gunfight with officers. Suspect talking about all these Jews need to die. We're still communicating with him. Reporter: Eventually the suspect shot, wounded, crawls out on his knees and surrenders. Outside the temple fear and disbelief. My father-in-law was inside. I got married in that place. This is crazy. Unbelievable. People have to stop the hate. Reporter: 11 people killed. Did you wish you had gone back for them and tried to hustle them as well out the door. The intellect side of my brain says, Jeffrey, you couldn't have done anything. There's knock you could have done. If you would have gone back, you would have been number eight in that room. But the emotional side of me says, I left them and I'm their passion tore of their flock. And I can't be consoled for that. Reporter: The alleged gunman identified by authorities as 46-year-old Robert bowers, also from Pittsburgh. This is the most horrific crime scene I've seen. Reporter: Agent price stepped into the carnage to assess the gunman and weapons. Looking at the scene could you tell how many rounds had been fired. Hundred, hundreds of rounds between -- he engaged with the officers and S.W.A.T. Team. Reporter: Bowers' neighbor Chris hall said the suspect came and went silently. Just how Normal he seemed. Reporter: In person a ghost but on social media, he was a demon. The intro to bowers' social media page saying Jews are the children of Satan and repost comments like this, it's the filthy evil Jews bringing filthy evil muslims into the country. Shortly before the deadly assault his final post, I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in. The post written on gab, the fringe social media site with nearly half a million users. Gab has become popular among white supremacist who blaef Facebook and Twitter censure their radical views. Today gab saying, they defend free speech, gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the doj and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist. Adding, people are waking up, so please keep pointing the finger at a social network instead of pointing the finger at the alleged shooter who holds sole responsibility for his actions. Law enforcement officials say the 46-year-old was not on their radar. Chris hall, that neighbor says bowers never socialized and never revealed a hint of his alleged anti-semitism. No sign of anything. No sign of anything. I wish I knew something. Reporter: According to the police bowers Bo worked as a trucker for a short period last year had amassed a cache of weapon, all of them purchased legally. Authorities telling ABC news they recovered ten firearms from the scene and from his home. Today, the alleged gunman was released from allegheny general hospital and shows the moment doctors worked to save his life. I asked him how he was doing. Was he in pain and he said, no, he was fine. Reporter: The president of the hospital responsible for his care is also a member of the tree of life synagogue. I thought it was important I at least talk to him and meet him and you can't on one hand say, we should talk to each other and then I don't talk to him. So, you lead by example and you know I'm the leader of the hospital. Reporter: Bowers now facing 29 federal charges including hate crimes. This afternoon he was wheeled into a federal courthouse and arraigned. He'll be held without bail. We will have the opportunity to present evidence, demonstrating that Robert bowers murdered 11 people who are exercising their religious beliefs and that he shot or injured six others including four of whom were police officers responding to the shooting. Reporter: The president this morning reacting to the anger in the country laying the blame squarely on the media. Saying in part, the fake news media, the true enemy of the people, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately and fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of anger and outrage. The white house doubling down. You can't start putting the responsibility of individuals on anybody but the individual who carries out the crime. Why is the president suggesting it's the news media. The president is the one blaising blame. No, he's not placing blame. He's not responsible for these acts. Again, the very first action the president did was condemn these heinous acts, the very first thing that the media did was condemn the president. So we've been following very closely the events of squirrel hill. Reporter: Over the weekend the president was criticized after his first remarks on the tragedy where he condemned it as an act of hate but did not mention the victims. Instead suggesting armed guards at the synagogue could have stopped the shooter. If you take a look, if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. They didn't. And he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn't have been able to do. Reporter: Later the president offering a more forceful denunciation of the shooting. This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil this was an anti-so mitting act. You wouldn't think this would be possible in this day and age but we don't seem to learn from the past. Reporter: The white house says the president will head to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The rabbi of the tree of life said the president is welcome but that visit may not be met with total open arms. With one group of Progressive jewish leaders telling the president, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh. But for the residents of squirrel hill Tuesday will be a day to come together to remember their family and friends as they begin to bury those who were killed. The victims ranging in age from 54 to 97. 75-year-old Joyce fienberg, the widowed mother of two sons and grandmother was a retired research specialist at the university of Pittsburgh. And brothers 54-year-old David and 59-year-old Cecil Rosenthal who lived together loved going to Saturday services. They never missed a week. I smile when I say his name just because he was so -- he was a funny guy. He liked to tease. I can still hear him say, his signature greeting was hello, sir. How are you today? Reporter: Does the congregation remain? Not the same. But it remains and it will be stronger. Because we pulled together as a community and we will get through this together. Reporter: And that community is already proving strong. Need that giant hug that this Pittsburgh jewish community always gives. ??? I pray for you ??? Reporter: Thousands across all faiths came together Sunday night for a service and vigil in Pittsburgh. Do you have a message to the country? Thank you for your outpouring of love. It's reassuring when hate rears its face that there was so much love out there from complete strangers. And it's not just been the country, it's been the world and responsibility is to teach respect, love and decency. Reporter: Because those who Kong get great at the tree of life are determined to keep on living.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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