Eight men and three women, ranging in age from 97 to 54, were killed at a crowded Pittsburgh synagogue when a gunman opened fire on the congregation during Saturday services, officials announced.
Allegheny County medical examiner Karl Williams named the victims at a news conference Sunday:
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Fienberg, a mother of two sons, leaves behind several grandchildren, reported The Associated Press. Before she retired in 2008, she was a longtime researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center.
“Joyce was a magnificent, generous, caring, and profoundly thoughtful human being,” Dr. Gaea Leinhardt, Fienberg’s former research partner, told the AP.
“She was the gentlest of people,” according to Dodie Roskies, one of her best friends.
Richard Gottfried, 65
Gottfried, a dentist was remembered by many for his devotion to his wider community. He spent years performing dental work on people who were uninsured at the Squirrel Hill Health Center.
“He was very devoted to community and to service,” said Susan Kalson, the center’s chief executive. “He loved working with our patients, underserved patients, including a lot of refugees and immigrants.”
Rose Mallinger, 97
Mallinger was a mainstay at the synagogue for decades.
“She was a synagogue-goer, and not everybody is. She’s gone to the synagogue for a lifetime, no matter how many people are there,” Chuck Diamond, a former rabbi at the synagogue, told The Washington Post.
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Rabinowitz was a doctor, cat lover and “the kindest person you could dream of meeting,” his friend, Anna Boswell-Levy, said in a Facebook post.
“He was such a good and caring man,” added Lisa Wesson-Richardson, one of his employees at UPMC Shadyside, where he was a family practitioner. “This is such huge loss to his family, his staff and his patients!”
“The UPMC family, in particular UPMC Shadyside, cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss,” the hospital said in a statement.
Several people recalled the role Rabinowitz played in saving the lives of loved ones. Former patient Michael Kerr, who Rabinowitz treated for HIV until 2004, said he would be remembered in the community for “keeping us alive the longest.”
He was never seen without a bowtie, which his nephew Avishal Ostrin said he wore to “make people smile:”
Brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54
Tree of Life was an integral part of these brothers’ lives, friends said. They lived apart, but were “inseparable” and both sought care for their developmental disabilities from the same organization, Achieva.
“You can feel what is good in the world when you talk to them, because they only talk to you about good things,” Jeffrey Solomon, a fellow Tree of Life congregant, told The New York Times. “To say that everyone in the Pittsburgh Jewish community knows them is not even a remote exaggeration. They were both active participants in so much of life.”
Their sister, Diane Rosenthal, praised her brothers and their fellow congregants as “the ones who kept this community going, who made things happen.”
They probably even greeted the suspect on the morning of the shooting, she added.
Husband and wife Sylvan Simon, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84
“They held hands and they always smiled, and he would open the door for her, all those things that you want from another person,” recalled Heather Graham, the couple’s neighbor. “They were really generous and nice to everybody.”
Graham used to shovel snow for the Simons, and in return Bernice Simon would bake cranberry orange bread for Graham and write a thank-you note.
Daniel Stein, 71
Stein, a retired plumbing salesman and substitute teacher, as well as a husband, father of two and grandfather of one, attended Shabbat services every Saturday morning, his nephew, Steven Halle, told WPXI News on Saturday.
“Everybody loved him, there wasn’t one person that didn’t like him in the community,” Halle said.
Melvin Wax, 88
Wax, a retired accountant, was “such a kind, kind person,” Myron Snider, chairman of the congregation’s cemetery committee, told the AP.
“When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them,” Snider said.
He was so active within the synagogue that a friend jokingly described his role to The New York Times as “everything but the cantor.”
Irving Younger, 69
Younger’s two greatest loves were his faith and his family, according to his next-door neighbor Tina Prizner. The former small business owner and baseball coach attended services every day, volunteering as an usher.
“He was the most wonderful dad and grandpa,” Prizner added. “He talked about his daughter and his grandson, always, and he never had an unkind word to say about anybody.”
Williams said that the victims’ families had been notified and are “in shock and grieving.” Their bodies are undergoing autopsies, and authorities are “doing everything in our power that honors both civil and religious law,” he said.
It could take up to a week to finish processing the crime scene, given that bodies were found in three different locations, Williams said.
“There are shell casings everywhere,” he said.
The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, reportedly yelled, “All Jews must die,” before carrying out the attack, according to police sources. Federal prosecutors filed 29 charges against him on Saturday evening, 22 of which could result in him being sentenced to death.
Bowers brought three Glock handguns and an AR-15 assault-style rifle into the synagogue, all of which he used in the massacre, Williams said.
He’s expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.
A Torah study and Shabbat services were scheduled at the synagogue on Saturday. During the shooting, a bris ― a Jewish circumcision ceremony for an infant boy ― was reportedly taking place at the synagogue.
Six people, including four police officers, were injured. One officer has been released from hospitalization and officials said a second was to be released sometime on Sunday.
The Anti-Defamation League called the shooting “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.
This article has been updated with additional details on victims.