ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — When St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano first heard of the heinous acts of violence in Pittsburgh, his thoughts immediately turned to those in his own backyard.
“(The Jewish community) has been a part of the fabric of our community for so long that hardly anyone can remember a time when those families weren’t here,” Spano said. “To have something like this happen, even halfway across the country, it has ripple effects in our community today.”
One of those ripples will be increased police patrols around places like the Jewish Community Center, schools, synagogues and neighborhoods.
Eleven people were killed and a number of others injured after a shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Saturday. Police say the gunman, 48-year-old Robert Bowers, walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews must die.”
The City of St. Louis Park has also been in touch with state and regional law enforcement, who say there is no specific threat here in Minnesota.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek also said Saturday deputies have begun increased patrols to area Jewish places of worship and organizations to thwart any “would-be copycat attacks.”
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, believes Saturday’s massacre marks a critical moment.
“The moment that a shooter walks into a synagogue and murders people, everything going forward in a way will date from that time,” Hunegs said.
In the coming days, Hunegs and his staff will be focusing on community security, something he hopes all faith leaders will do as well.
“An attack on a synagogue is an attack on a mosque, is an attack on a church, is an attack on a temple,” Hunegs said. “And when we secure one, we should try to secure all.”
The JCRC just hired former Plymouth Deputy Police Chief Dan Plekkenpol as their director of community security three weeks ago.
Local Jewish faith leaders have planned several events in the wake of Saturday’s shooting.
A Sunday vigil will be held at Temple Israel in Minneapolis at 3 p.m. There will be a vigil at Minnesota Hillel Sunday in Minneapolis beginning at 7 p.m. An interfaith event is also set for Monday at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul at 6 p.m.