Pennsylvania officials, clergy react to shootings in Ohio, Texas |

Pennsylvania officials, clergy react to shootings in Ohio, Texas

Emily Balser
Associated Press
Mourners gather at a vigil following a nearby mass shooting Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio were killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter was killed, police said.
Associated Press
Mourner Amanda Luke holds a sign at vigil following a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio were killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter was killed, police said.
Associated Press
Eleven-year-old Leilani Hebben, right, embraces her mother, Anabel Hebben, as they visit the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas.

Officials and religious leaders across Pennsylvania are sending their condolences and extending offers to help communities in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, after two mass shootings in less than 24 hours this weekend.

The shootings killed nearly 30 people and injured dozens more. They came less than a week after a gunman killed three people and injured others at a festival in California. They also come as the Pittsburgh region nears the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill that killed 11 people.

Pittsburgh Public Safety said in a statement Sunday they are “deeply saddened by the senseless loss of life yesterday in El Paso, Texas and in nearby Dayton, Ohio.”

“We are reminded yet again that the hatred that scarred Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018, can strike anywhere and at any time,” the statement said. “These events are, sadly, a part of modern American society and a part of modern police work.”

Pittsburgh Public Safety said they are “constantly planning and training for any and all types of incidents, including mass casualty shooting events” and encouraged residents to speak up if they see something concerning.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto posted about the shootings on Twitter Sunday morning.

Peduto’s Chief of Staff Dan Gilman also responded on Twitter.

Gilman called for the country to take action against gun violence.

Gov. Tom Wolf said he and his wife are mourning “an especially horrific 24 hours of gun violence in America.”

Wolf said it’s time to take action to prevent any more mass shootings.

“We can ban assault weapons and institute stricter background checks. We can make communities safer. We can target white nationalism and promote tolerance. We can invest in mental health care and help those struggling,” he said. “We cannot accept this violence as normal. We must act.”

Greensburg Diocese Bishop Edward Malesic said the shootings were the result of hatred.

“We pray every day for God’s Kingdom to come so violence will be overcome by peace. We also continue to work toward the day when wrong is overcome by charity,” Malesic said. “May the souls of the departed rest in peace and their families find consolation in God’s love. May those who are wounded recover swiftly and completely.”

Pittsburgh Diocese Bishop David Zubik expressed his condolences with a call to action.

“Over and over and over, we grieve as a nation for the victims of mass shootings, praying for the souls of those who have died and for the long recovery of those with wounded bodies and broken hearts,” he said. “Our prayers must also lead us to actions that will address the complex causes of these crimes.”

He said some of those actions include limiting civilian access to high capacity weapons and magazines, addressing online sites that encourage violence, improving access to mental health care and working to overcome racism that contributes to some mass shootings.

“The victims of these shootings will be in my prayers — as will those who hold the power to help prevent these massacres,” Zubik said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey issued a statement Sunday blasting what he described as President Donald Trump’s use of “white, nationalist rhetoric” as a contributing factor is recent mass shootings.

“We have a President of the United States that uses white nationalist rhetoric and engages in racism. From its early days, the Trump Administration has sought to limit funding to groups dedicated to countering white extremism — going as far as revoking grants previously awarded under the Obama Administration and cutting off funding for the future.”

Casey also called on Congress to enact gun control measures in the wake of the shootings.

“Congress’s first priority must be passing universal background checks, limiting the size of magazines and banning military-style assault weapons, among other measures. Senate Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell should immediately call the Senate back to Washington this week to debate and vote on universal background check legislation that was passed by the House in February.”

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