'A pure act of evil': Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen condemns Pittsburgh shooting

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President Donald Trump is responding to what he’s calling the “devastating” shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, saying: “It’s a ‘terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country.” (Oct. 27)
AP

Vice President Mike Pence denied that President Donald Trump’s habit of attacking, insulting and vilifying his opponents contributed to the shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday or the bombs that were mailed to a number of political figures last week. 

“Look, everyone has their own style. And frankly, people on both side of the aisle use strong language about our political differences,” Pence told NBC News correspondent Vaughn Hillyard on Saturday when asked if he has ever suggested to Trump to tone down the rhetoric. “But I just don’t think you can connect it to threats or acts of violence, Vaughn. And I don’t think the American people connect it.” 

A 46-year-old white man is accused of entering the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday and opening fire in the deadliest attack on Jewish Americans practicing their beliefs in U.S. history. In addition to the 11 worshippers who were killed, six others were wounded, including four police officers who responded to the scene. 

And last week, pipe bombs were mailed to more than a dozen prominent political figures, most connected with the Democratic Party. Many media figures have argued that the president’s language could inspire troubled individuals to commit acts of violence.  

Hillyard asked Pence if he was “complicit” in Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric if he did not try to persuade the president to change. 

Pence conceded that he and the president “have different styles,” but he said Trump “connected to the American people because he spoke plainly.” 

“We need to be very careful” before we make any connection between political debate and “the kind of violent behavior we witnessed in Pittsburgh,” the “threats of violence against prominent Americans that we witnessed in the pipe bombs” or other recent mass shootings, Pence said.

The vice president cautioned that people need to recognize the difference between “passionate debate and acts of violence and evil.” 

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also condemned the shooting Pittsburgh synagogue shooting as “evil.” 

“This was a pure act of evil,” Nielsen told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace when asked if the shooting was a terrorist act or a hate crime. “You’ve heard that from the president and vice president yesterday, that’s what it is. We all condemn this in the strongest terms possible.”

Nielsen said DHS officials had been to the Tree of Life Synagogue as recently as March when a protective security adviser conducted a site visit. 

Nielsen stressed the need for planning for potential active shooter incidents because every location is different and because “in such events, there is rarely time to think through roles and responsibilities. The response has got to be automatic.” 

After the shooting, President Donald Trump tweeted that “all of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans.” 

Trump also condemned the shooting as an “evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”

 

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