WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the wake of a tragic synagogue shooting that left 11 dead, according to the White House.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during a briefing Monday that the first family intends to “express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community.”
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
In addition to the 11 killed, the gunman wounded at least half a dozen others, including four police officers.
After arresting the suspect on the scene following a shoot-out, police identified him as Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old Baldwin, Pennsylvania resident with a long history of anti-Semitic and white nationalist rhetoric online.
The incident is the largest anti-Semitic act of violence in U.S. history.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that he intended to travel to the city soon and had spoken with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) about a possible visit.
However, on Monday, Peduto told local reporters that Trump should postpone any trip until after the victims’ funerals are held and the city is prepared for his visit.
Compounding potential issues surrounding the president’s visit, a coalition of 11 progressive Jewish leaders from Pittsburgh sent a letter to the president telling him that he was not welcome in the city until he denounces white nationalism and stops targeting minorities, immigrants and refugees in his rhetoric.
“While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say: President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us,” the letter, sent from the organization Bend the Arc, states.
The White House acknowledged the letter Monday, but largely dismissed it, with Sanders stating that Trump has repeatedly denounced hate groups and adding that Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said Trump is welcome to visit.