Local synagogues, temples increasing security in wake of Pittsburgh shooting

BEACHWOOD -- Local police are stepping up security near synagogues in Beachwood in wake of the shooting at a synagogue that left 11 dead and several people injured in Pittsburgh.

Chief Haba with the Beachwood Police Department told FOX 8 it is natural to step up patrols after such an event.

Haba assumes the extra security will last at least a couple of days, and may also depend on any intelligence gathered in the aftermath of the horrible tragedy in Pennsylvania.

The Temple-Tifereth Israel is one of the temples increasing security and issued the following statement:

"We pray for the victims and send comfort and strength and healing for those whose lives will forever be affected by it."

Cleveland Heights Police Department is also increasing patrols Saturday and will continue to do so at all synagogues in the city throughout the weekend.

University Heights City Hall issued the following statement on Facebook,

"In response to the tragedy this morning in Pittsburgh, the University Heights Police Department is coordinating security efforts with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland."

FOX 8 reached out to the Anti-Defamation League of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, whose response echoed what many people across the nation were feeling Saturday.

"Shock, devastated our hearts which are going out to the Pittsburgh community which is very close to the Cleveland community," said Development Director Anita Gray.

We asked the league if they believed the increased security was necessary.

Gray explained, "Unfortunately in the world we're living in, as proven today in Pittsburgh, it's definitely, definitely warranted and we here in Cleveland, on our Sabbath, our Shabbat, at every synagogue or temple, we have armed guards. Unfortunately it's the state of affairs we're living in right now in the United States."

Gray explained that this is not an isolated incident.

Prior to the Pittsburgh shooting spree, the suspected gunman, Rob Bowers, posted anti-Semitic remarks on social media.

Gray said hateful remarks directed at Jews are on the rise.

"We are charged at the Anti-Defamation League with monitoring -- actually counting -- anti-Semitic incidents and we found that in the year 2016 it was up 57%. And, what concerns me, if this is happening to Jews, what about the Muslims? What about African Americans? And what about the Hispanics? They must certainly be having incidents that our enhanced as well," Gray told FOX 8.

Gray said she believes that all citizens have a responsibility to combat hate. It's not just actions, Gray said hateful and hostile speech also hurts.

"I just think that we've reached, hopefully, the pinnacle of this in the United States and hopefully good people will step up to the plate and realize that we're responsible for our own actions and take action in watching their words," said Gray, "I really hope, and do believe, that good people will stand up and be accountable for our actions."

The attack at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood Saturday morning left 11 people dead and several injured. Pittsburgh city officials said the shooting is being investigated as a federal hate crime. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the federal government will file hate crime and other charges against suspected synagogue gunman, Robert Bowers, that 'could lead to death penalty.'

FOX 8 has reached out to additional temples and synagogues in the area. More information regarding security measures will be provided as it becomes available.

Continuing coverage, here.

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