Steelers, Penguins hold moments of silence to honour Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims
As NFL and NHL teams held moments of silence to honour the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was visibly emotional as players and coaches stood on the sidelines at Heinz Field.
WATCH: Pittsburgh Steelers hold moment of silence
Tomlin is a member of the Squirrel Hill community in Pittsburgh, where an apparent anti-Semite opened fire at a synagogue during Saturday morning services, killing 11 people.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s shooting and the Squirrel Hill community,” Tomlin told reporters during his post-game press conference. “Words cannot express how we feel as members of this community.”
The somber moment before the Steelers and Cleveland Browns game was one of several from across the NFL as teams and players alike honoured the victims.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it was incredibly difficult taking the field just over 24 hours after the shooting occurred.
“There is so much love here in this town, for their sports, for each other, for all the different races, ethnicities and religions,” he told reporters. “I’m glad that we are able to give people three hours from maybe not thinking about it all the time.”
Defensive end Cam Heyward entered the stadium with a T-shirt featuring a heart around the word “Pittsburgh,” and fans carried signs that displayed a “Stronger than Hate” sign, pairing the Steelers’ logo with the Star of David. The Steelers won 33-18.
The Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins held a moment of silence before their game Saturday night.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby offered his support to the city following the shooting, which is being called the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history.
“We woke up to that terrible news this morning and our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and the families affected by what happened this morning,” Crosby told reporters.
“Knowing Pittsburgh, we’ll stick together and rally around them and be there to help in any way we can.”
WATCH: Leafs, Jets hold moment of silence
Elsewhere, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets also held a moment of silence to honour those killed.
Police have identified Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, as the gunman who killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life synagogue during worship services Saturday. Authorities have said Bowers used an AR-15 rifle and three handguns in the attack, which also injured several police officers.
State and federal affidavits show that Bowers told an officer while he was being treated for his injuries “that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people.”
Bowers was charged with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in what Mayor Bill Peduto called it the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.”
He was also charged with several counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death — a federal hate crime — and using a firearm to commit murder.
WATCH: Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints hold moment of silence for Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims
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