UPDATED: Wolf Administration Offers Information on Support Services for Victims, Families, First Responders and Community Affected by Pittsburgh Mass Shooting

October 28, 2018

UPDATED 11:25 AM, Sunday, October 28:

Pittsburgh, PA – The Wolf Administration today offered information on resources available to victims, families, community members and first responders dealing with the aftereffects of the mass shooting yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

“We now know the names of those lost in this horrifying act and that makes this tragedy even more personal for many. It is normal for people to feel confused, scared and angry when violence of this magnitude is close to home even if you were not directly impacted,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “Acts of hate send a ripple effect into communities and their purpose is to induce fear in all. Please know that you are not alone, there are services. Reach out for resources if you are struggling, it is okay to ask for help. In times such as these having a connection to our community is vital in healing.”

Staff from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office is on site at the Victims Assistance Center set up at the Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh, to help with counseling and other support services.

Victims and survivors, family members and impacted community members also can access the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) resources for first responders, victims and their loved ones and all affected by this traumatic event. People can call the toll-free Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to receive immediate counseling from trained, caring professionals. Helpline staff can also make referrals to in-person counseling services and other support services.

SAMHSA’s Disaster App is also available for first responders. The app helps first responders through all steps of disaster deployment, compiles resources for crisis counseling and behavioral health services, and resources to help first responders cope. The app is available for free through the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Those affected by this tragedy also can access free services available through the Center for Victims in Pittsburgh. The center assists with the traumatic impact of crimes and can offer emotional support, counseling, long-term therapeutic assistance and access to the commonwealth’s Crime Victims Compensation Assistance Program, which can provide aid toward various financial expenses that may arise.

UPDATED 5:36 PM, Saturday, October 27:

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf made the following remarks in response to Saturday morning’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:

“Today words simply… I can’t express the sadness that all Pennsylvanians feel for what happened today.

“I want to give my condolences first of all to the victims of this tragedy, the families, and their friends, and to this community.

“This shooting is being investigated by the FBI as a hate crime.

“My heart breaks for members of the Jewish community. Today all of Pennsylvania mourns with you.

“Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in our commonwealth. Any attack on one community of faith in Pennsylvania is an attack against every community of faith in Pennsylvania. And I want the Jewish community across the commonwealth and across the country to know that we stand in support of you as we together mourn this senseless act of violence.

“The Shabbat is a time for reflection, it’s a time for finding peace, not for violence.

“Pennsylvania’s Jewish community is strong, is vibrant, and resilient. Now is the time more than ever to come together and to support each other.

“I have spent today with first responders, with local leaders, and I am in awe of the bravery of displayed by law enforcement, those folks who help to keep people safe, to aid victims, and to prevent further tragedy.

“Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working in concert to investigate this tragedy and to maintain public safety. At the state level the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health are in contact with local officials to assist with any, any unmet needs.

“The Pennsylvania State Police have been on the scene already, and are coordinating with federal and local law enforcement.

“Pennsylvania State Police’s SWAT team, the helicopter, K-9 units, and bomb technicians have all responded and are all assisting.

“My thoughts right now are focused on the victims however, their families, their friends, and making sure that law enforcement has every resource that they need.

“In the aftermath of this tragedy we must all come together. We must take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We simply cannot accept this violence as a normal part of American life.

“These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Pennsylvanians, they’re not who we are as Americans.”

UPDATED 3:37 PM, Saturday, October 27:

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today provided an update on the commonwealth’s response to the mass shooting at The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh earlier today. He also will participate in a press briefing at 4 p.m. with federal, state, and local officials.

“I am in Pittsburgh meeting with affected families, first responders, and city and county officials. Frances and I offer our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of this heinous act of hatred. We are praying for those injured and the medical professionals treating them.

“I thank all of the first responders who worked quickly to prevent further carnage, aid victims, and protect the surrounding neighborhood. I stand in sorrow and solidarity with all those, especially the Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh Jewish communities, who are mourning and helping the community to recover.”

Commonwealth Actions

The Pennsylvania State Police sent the following message through its Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center to all law enforcement in the state to be vigilant in protection of all houses of worship and other large gatherings:

“All law enforcement agencies are reminded to be mindful of the synagogues, other places of worship, and any other venues involving a large gathering of persons within their areas of responsibility. There are no known threats to other institutions in Pennsylvania at this time; however, [PSP] recommends that all law enforcement personnel be on heightened alert and remain vigilant for any suspicious activity.”

The Pennsylvania State Police responded this morning to assist the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and other first responders and will continue to help moving forward in what is now an FBI investigation.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is in constant contact with city and county officials to monitor needs and the Department of Health stands ready to provide resources to local health care facilities and agencies.

Anyone looking for information on a family member or with other information relevant to the investigation is advised to call 412-432-4400. A Victims Assistance Center has been set up at the Jewish Community Center located at 5738 Forbes Avenue.

11:54 AM, Saturday, October 27, 2018:

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf issued the following statement in response to Saturday morning’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:

“The shooting in Pittsburgh this morning is an absolute tragedy. I have spoken with local leaders and my administration and the Pennsylvania State Police will provide any resources to assist local law enforcement and first responders.

“These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need.

“We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life. But we have been saying “this one is too many” for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way.

“And in the aftermath of this tragedy, we must come together and take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We cannot accept this violence as normal.”

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