A Muslim-initiated crowdfunding campaign raised over $60,000 by Sunday for the victims of a weekend synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh.
US authorities said 46-year-old Robert Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday during worship services, before a tactical police team shot and wounded him. Bowers faces state and federal charges.
Dr. Karl Williams, chief medical examiner for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, named the victims as Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69. David and Cecil Rosenthal were brothers, and Bernice and Sylvan Simon were husband and wife.
The charity drive was started on Saturday by two American Muslim NGOs and reached its $25,000 goal in less than six hours. It then passed an updated goal of $50,000 within 24 hours, after which the bar was raised again to $75,000 for the Pittsburgh Jewish community.
“The Muslim-American community extends its hands to help the shooting victims, whether it is the injured victims or the Jewish families who have lost loved ones,” the fundraising page said.
“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action.”
The campaign was run by Islamic advocacy organization CelebrateMercy and MPower, a Muslim social activism group. It was hosted on Launchgood, a Muslim crowdfunding site, but urged that “though this is a Muslim-led campaign, we welcome friends of all faiths to contribute.”
The groups said the funds will help victims with immediate expenses, including hospital bills.
Robert Bowers, the suspected gunman, reportedly yelled “All Jews must die” as he entered the synagogue and began firing. He engaged in a shootout with responding police officers and barricaded himself inside the building before surrendering.
The 46-year-old faces the death penalty over the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.
His online postings on Gab, a social network that bills itself as a champion of free speech, paint a picture of a white supremacist obsessed with far-right conspiracy theories about Jews, singling out a Jewish non-profit that provides aid to refugees as a target in a chilling message posted hours before his attack.