Within a period of ten days, two mass shootings have shocked the United States in Thousand Oaks, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The first occurred on Oct. 27 in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The shooting is being considered a hate crime against the Jewish community and is the deadliest attack of its kind in United States history.
Around 9:50 a.m. during Shabbat morning services at the Synagogue, the gunman is reported to have entered the building shouting defamatory threats before open firing with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and three .357 semi-automatic pistols. Eleven people were killed and seven were injured in the gunfire. After an exchange of fire between the gunman and law enforcement SWAT and tactical teams, where two SWAT members were injured, the gunman surrendered and was taken into police custody.
The shooter, a 46-year-old white male, reportedly told police that he wished for all Jewish people to die, saying the community was committing genocide against his people. In the days leading up to the shooting, the gunman reportedly made several anti-semitic internet posts and was described as “extremist friendly” to various neo-nazi, alt-right and white-supremacist groups.
He was charged with eleven counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault, six counts of attempted criminal homicide, and thirteen counts of ethnic intimidation. The charges carry a possible penalty of death or 535 years in federal prison.
The second shooting occurred late in the evening of Nov. 7 at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
The country-western bar was packed with college students when the shooter opened fire at approximately 11:20 p.m. The shooter used a .45 semi-automatic handgun with an illegal high-capacity magazine. Eleven bar-goers were killed, along with a first responder.
Once law enforcement were able to safely enter the building, the gunman was found dead as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The shooter’s motivations are currently unclear, but it has been identified that he was a 28-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran who had been previously deployed to Afghanistan.
While the former Marine was still serving in an active-duty capacity, it has been reported that he spent a year in a naval brig for a domestic assault charge.
The Marine Corps has condemned the shooter’s actions, with the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller tweeting,“That ex-Marine’s despicable actions run counter to what a vast majority of veterans are known for: serving [with] honor then making positive contributions to society.”
The investigation into the shooting is still underway.