UPDATE: Eleven people were killed in the shooting. At least four police officers were injured. Suspect Robert Bowers was hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
WASHINGTON— In his first remarks after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue, President Donald Trump said Saturday that armed guards could have prevented the killings.
“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One for trips to Indiana and Illinois. “This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect, but if they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation, but they didn’t.”
Trump said it is “certainly an option” for all houses of worship to have armed guards as well.
When asked if stricter gun laws would have helped, Trump said that that “has little to do with it.”
Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s public safety director, confirmed in a press conference that at least six people, including four police officers, have been injured in the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation.
Hissrich did not confirm the number of deaths, but described the crime scene as “horrific.”
Local media has identified the suspect as Robert Bowers, a man with a long history of anti-Semitic social media posts.
Speaking to reporters, Trump described the suspect as a “wacko” and suggested that the death penalty should be more widely used.
“We should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty,” Trump said, adding that states should bring the punishment “into vogue.”