October 29, 2018 11:59 am
Updated: October 29, 2018 2:12 pm

Doctor killed after rushing toward gunfire at Pittsburgh synagogue to help wounded

ABOVE: Beloved Pittsburgh doctor remembered by patients as anything but typical.


Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz is being hailed as a hero by family and friends after rushing to help the wounded when a heavily armed gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The 66-year-old family physician wasn’t initially in the room where the mass shooting happened but ran towards the chaotic scene when he heard gunshots, according to Rabinowitz’s nephew, Avishai Ostrin.

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READ MORE: Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims included 97-year-old woman, couple in their 80s

Rabinowitz was one of the 11 people killed in what’s believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

Ostrin wrote a Facebook post explaining that his uncle had been killed while trying to help others.

“Uncle Jerry wasn’t killed in the basement of the building where the congregation was Davening, he was shot outside the room. Why? Because when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor,” Ostrin wrote.

“That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.”

WATCH: Transcript reveals police response to synagogue shooting

Rabinowitz, a geriatrician and family physician from a town near Pittsburgh is survived by his wife Miri and was remembered for his infectious laugh and ability to light up a room, his nephew said.

And he apparently always wore a bowtie.

“There is just something about guys who wear bowties. Something youthful, something fun. And that is a word that definitely embodied my Uncle Jerry – fun,” he wrote.

“In addition to being the president of the congregation, he was a doctor, a healer,” Ostrin added.

READ MORE: Authorities, documents reveal how the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting unfolded

Many of Rabinowitz’ colleagues and patients shared the same sentiment.

Colleague Dr. Ken Ciesielka told the Associated Press that Rabinowitz was one of the “finest people” he had ever met in his life and “had a moral compass stronger than anyone I have ever known.”

“His patients are going to miss him terribly. His family is going to miss him terribly and I am going to miss him,” he said.

Michael Kerr, a former patient, remembered the doctor as a hero for his work during the “old days” of the HIV crisis.

“He was the one to go to,” Kerr told NBC News. “He was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office.”

WATCH: People sing songs, lay flowers and candles at Pittsburgh vigil after shooting

Professors, accountants and dentists serving their local community were among the 11 people killed.

The oldest of them was 97. The youngest was 54. They included a pair of brothers and a husband and wife.

WATCH: Rabbi of Pittsburgh synagogue at centre of shooting says he regrets not being able to ‘do more’

“If there was one message I would encourage us all to take from this, and one message that I think Uncle Jerry would have wanted us to learn from this, it would be a message of love, unity, and of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people,” Ostrin wrote.

The suspected shooter, Robert Bowers is due in court Monday. He’s charged with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. He’s also charged in a 29-count federal criminal complaint that included counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death – a federal hate crime – and using a firearm to commit murder.

WATCH: Robert Bowers, charged with Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, due in federal court

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