Pittsburgh Mayor Reflects On Deadly Synagogue Shooting NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto about the deadly shooting that took place at a local synagogue last weekend, President Trump's response and more.
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Pittsburgh Mayor Reflects On Deadly Synagogue Shooting

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Pittsburgh Mayor Reflects On Deadly Synagogue Shooting

Pittsburgh Mayor Reflects On Deadly Synagogue Shooting

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We begin this hour in Pittsburgh. A federal grand jury has indicted Robert Bowers on 44 counts, including hate crimes charges. He's the man accused of killing 11 people and wounding six others at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. President Trump was in Pittsburgh yesterday, where he visited the synagogue and a hospital where he met police officers wounded in the attack. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had asked Trump not to visit. And Mayor Peduto joins us now. Welcome.

BILL PEDUTO: Thank you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: You were invited to meet with the president and chose not to. Whatever your differences with him may be, do you see value in having a dialogue with the man who leads the country?

PEDUTO: Well, I wasn't the only one who was asked to be at the president's event at the synagogue. The governor was asked. The county executive was asked. Chuck Schumer was asked. Congressman Rothfus was asked. I believe Congressman Rothfus may have been there, but the other eight elected officials chose not to be there. I was sitting shiva with a family when the president came. I then went down to be with the officers who were injured. And if you ask me if it was more important as the mayor of Pittsburgh to be with the president at the synagogue or to be with the families and those that were injured, I would make that same decision 100 out of 100 times.

SHAPIRO: I want to ask you how the city of Pittsburgh is doing right now. Since Saturday, we've heard about the memorials, the interfaith ceremonies, the funerals. How would you describe where the city is in the grieving process at this moment?

PEDUTO: We're still in mourning. We are still primarily focused on the families of those that lost loved ones. The funerals in the conservative community are happening, you know, as soon as possible. But during this time period, nothing takes precedence over helping the people who lost their loved ones and starting to heal those that have been injured. I think that as we start next week, we get more broad in our support of our Jewish community in making sure that they understand that we love them and that we will protect them.

SHAPIRO: When you look forward at how to prevent these kinds of events in the future, I know that you disagree with proposals to put armed guards at schools or places of worship. What kinds of steps do you think Pittsburgh and other cities can take to prevent this from happening again?

PEDUTO: I had a great conversation with the mayor of Annapolis, Md., that recently lost five journalists. I have a phone call this afternoon with the mayor of Parkland. I'll be speaking with the mayor in San Bernardino. I spoke at length with Mayor Buddy Dwyer (ph) in Orlando. I believe that, as mayors, the solutions of what we need to do will need to come by on the local level, that we can't wait anymore for Washington to solve our problems for us. We're going to have to solve them ourselves.

SHAPIRO: And do those solutions involve limits to gun ownership? Do those solutions involve - what sorts of things are you thinking about?

PEDUTO: Well, there's different rules for different states, right? A lot of states, like Pennsylvania, preempt local governments to have the ability to put limits on guns. Public discourse in this country has gotten to the point where somebody can feel that they should go to a synagogue as people pray and murder them simply because of the way they pray. But you don't just get from step one to step 10. So at the local level, we have to change the political discourse and the way that we discuss things in this country.

SHAPIRO: Finally, Mayor Peduto - and I hesitate to ask this question for fear that it sounds insensitive - but given that we are one week from a midterm election, as we talk about a presidential visit to Pittsburgh and a debate over public safety and extremism, do you think there is a political overtone to all of this?

PEDUTO: I can tell you that with all the evil that I am seeing, there is something that is a strong goodness. What I can't tell you is, as a political prognosticator, what that means on an election day. I can only do what I can do as an individual. And I would hope that every American would go out and vote, no matter what party you're in, and be a part of the democratic process and work to eradicate hatred. It is what divides us.

SHAPIRO: Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Penn., thank you for speaking with us today. And my condolences on what your city is going through.

PEDUTO: Thanks, Ari.

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