Pennsylvania officials, clergy react to shootings in Ohio, 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.
Woke up this AM to yet another mass shooting. Called my friend, Dayton Mayor @nanwhaley to offer support & advice gained from our horrific experience. Incredible that states & federal government continue to ignore this epidemic. Doing nothing will not solve the problem.
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) August 4, 2019
Peduto’s Chief of Staff Dan Gilman also responded on Twitter.
— Daniel Gilman (@danielgilman) August 4, 2019
Gilman called for the country to take action against gun violence.
I am sick to my stomach reading about this mass shooting in El Paso. What appears to be significant loss of life including kids at the hands of people filled with hate and armed with assault rifles. No more. No more. No more. This nation must take action and now.
— Daniel Gilman (@danielgilman) August 3, 2019
Don’t want to hear thoughts and prayers from people who write checks to politicians that 1)will not take on NRA & 2)will not recognize & condemn hate speech, white supremacy and the normalization of xenophobia, homophobia, islamaphobia, racism, sexism, & anti-semitism.
— Daniel Gilman (@danielgilman) August 3, 2019
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.”
Frances and I are praying for El Paso, the families destroyed, and innocent lives lost.
Gun violence is a crisis, unique to America, and it shouldn’t be.
We must take action at all levels of government.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) August 4, 2019
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.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .