Trump blames deaths at Pittsburgh synagogue on lack of armed guards

JTA

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on his way to Indianapolis, Indiana, Oct. 27, 2018. Trump spoke to reporters about the fatal shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. (Ken Cedeno/Pool/Getty Images)

(JTA) — President Trump said the events of a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning “would have been far better” if the synagogue had more armed protection inside.

“This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,” Trump told reporters just hours after the shooting. “If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”

The shooting left 8 dead and several others injured.

Trump also said the perpetrators of violence inside houses of worship should receive the death penalty.

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“When people do this, they should get the death penalty and they shouldn’t have to wait years and years,” he said. “They should pay the ultimate price.”

The president repeatedly referred to the shooter, identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who was taken into custody, as a “wacko,” a “maniac” and “crazy.”

Trump’s comments drew fierce condemnation on social media from many who saw him as blaming the synagogue for the incident. Virginia Democratic House Rep. Don Beyer criticized the president for a “lack of empathy.”

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