They came to cry and smile and yell and bear witness Tuesday in Pittsburgh, a city dealing with a massacre of 11 Jewish senior citizens who were gunned down while worshipping.
They were friends and family and football players and people not even from the city. They came for the funerals of three well-liked figures and some came to shout at the President to tell him he was unwelcome in this city still in grief.
The funerals are just beginning.
They buried Jerry Rabinowitz, a doctor who was skilled and compassionate.
They buried the Rosenthal brothers, David and Cecil, who were “innocent, pure souls” and “gentle giants” with no ill will, their kin said.
There will be additional services Wednesday and Thursday.
The victims cared
The community united to mourn what’s believed to be deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history, but was divided over Trump’s visit.
“Anything you wanted done, Jerry was there to do it. (He) always helped out,” said Jean Clickner, who knew Rabinowitz for decades.
Her smile grew as she thought of him.
“He’s so big. I mean, he’s a little guy, and he’s bigger than life,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Not far away, at Rodef Shalom Congregation, hundreds of people lined up for the visitation for the brothers.
The beloved football team that represents this hard-working city, the NFL’s Steelers, was there, 100 strong with players and staff past and present. Even Franco Harris, a hero of the 1970s, was there to pay respect.
At the funerals, the room was so packed, people lined the walls. They heard a sister and brother-in-law talk about how David and Cecil Rosenthal loved their synagogue and loved spending time at the Jewish Community Center. The Rosenthal brothers had mental disabilities and could neither read nor write, but were remembered as being quick to crack jokes.
Rocks and roses
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump came to Pittsburgh to pay respects. Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who are Jewish, accompanied them to the synagogue.
It was a controversial visit for some as politicians and some city residents had wanted the President to stay away until the Tree of Life congregation had had time to bury all the dead.
The President went to the synagogue for a solemn visit, where he and the first lady lit a candle inside the vestibule for the 11 victims.
Outside, the Trumps participated in the Jewish custom of placing stones for the dead. Their stones came from the White House, and the first couple also placed white roses at each of the stars for the dead.
Though protesters could not be seen by people at the synagogue, several thousand demonstrators were marching nearby and could be heard.
Some neighbors in Squirrel Hill protested the visit and held signs saying, “Words Matter,” “Strength Through Unity,” “Watch Your Words” and “Hate Does Not Work in Our Neighborhoods.”
Not everyone was against Trump’s visit though.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading a service at Tree of Life when the shooting began, greeted the first couple at the synagogue and shared with them details of the horrific attack.
The Trumps also visited wounded police officers at a hospital, the widow of a victim and others.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders said the wife of Richard Gottfried, who was killed, wanted Trump to know there were people wanted him there.
The President wanted to be there to pay his respects on behalf of the country, Sanders said.
Rabbi says congregants unbowed
The massacre is believed to be the deadliest attack against Jews in US history.
The shooting struck at the heart of Pittsburgh’s historically Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood and reverberated across the nation.
Myers said his congregants would be unbowed.
“We are Tree of Life, and as I said before to many, you can cut off some of the branches from our tree, but Tree of Life has been in Pittsburgh for 154 years. We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We will be back stronger and better than ever.”
An online fundraiser for those affected by the massacre had raised more than $944,000 by early Wednesday.
Outreach efforts extended to first responders as well. Those injured in the shooting include four law enforcement officers. One of them, a 40-year-old officer who directly confronted the gunman and suffered wounds to his extremities and pelvis, has been upgraded to stable condition. The other three officers have been discharged, a hospital spokeswoman said.x
The walls of the Zone 4 police station, a few blocks from the Tree of Life synagogue, were covered in handwritten notes from residents after the shooting, the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said Monday in a series of Twitter posts. People also came by to “deliver food and hugs for the officers,” the department said.
Suspect faces federal and state charges
Suspect Robert Bowers, 46, faces 44 federal charges, including counts of hate crimes that are potentially punishable by death. He made his first court appearance Monday. An investigator said Wednesday that the AR-15 rifle and three Glock handguns Bowers used in the attack were purchased legally.
Bowers was detained without bond, and his next court date is Thursday. The US attorney in Pittsburgh has started the process of seeking the death penalty.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said state charges will be filed later.
“While we are confident that we can move forward with our prosecution, as a practical matter, the circumstances indicate that it is prudent to allow this case to proceed at the federal level at this time,” he said, adding that the shootings are “clearly a capital case.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein, Darran Simon, Dave Alsup, Kevin Liptak, Rashard Rose, David Shortell, Susannah Cullinane, Joe Sterling, Emanuella Grinberg, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Sara Sidner, AnneClaire Stapleton, Leslie Holland, Jason Hanna and Julia Jones contributed to this report.