PITTSBURGH - Patrols are being increased at local mosques in response to the shootings in New Zealand that left more than four dozen people dead, Pittsburgh Public Safety officials announced Friday.
In a news release, officials said the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's Intel Unit “monitors all threats to all city residents and visitors, and works closely with law enforcement agencies at local, state and federal levels.”
The efforts of the intel unit will continue Friday, officials said.
“Today we stand with the people of Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer our deepest condolences. And we will continue to stand united against all forms of hate,” the news release said.
Public Safety officials have been in contact with local Islamic leaders about increasing patrols at mosques and other locales, officials said.
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"They have ensured us and there will be two patrol cars and police officers here for Friday worship. We have been historic partners with the city and we hope to secure out places of worship and hopefully every place of worship," said Muhammed Haq, a board member at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told Channel 11 that the mosque attacks brought back horrific memories of losing 11 of his congregation members.
“I have been sick reliving October 27 all over again,” Myers said.
He said he also remembers the support he and others received which is why he did not hesitate to reach out to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement saying, "Today we stand with the people of Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer our deepest condolences. And we will continue to stand united against all forms of hate."
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all state flags at half mast in honor of the mosque victims.
Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese also released a statement on the shootings:
"Together with so many others, my heart hurts to learn of yet another mass shooting in a place of worship, this time two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The senseless taking of innocent life is only made more disturbing when people are targeted because of their beliefs and as they gather to pray.
Our local community knows all too well the shock and horror of a massacre such as this. Yet, an act intended to tear people apart can instead build up a community that is “Stronger than Hate.” I hope that the Muslim community in Christchurch will know the love and support of their neighbors near and far in the face of the evil they have experienced.
On behalf of the faithful of the Church of Pittsburgh, I pledge our prayers for those killed and injured in this terrible tragedy, for comfort and consolation for their loved ones, and for peace in the hearts of all affected by today’s events. We especially extend our support to the Muslim community in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
At the same time, we pray that our community of Pittsburgh will continue to be a place of compassion and peace, where people of all faiths can live and grow together free from the fear of encountering hate because of their beliefs. May civil discourse and mutual respect be the hallmarks of this place we call home."
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