Pittsburgh community thanks first responders after deadly synagogue shooting

PITTSBURGH — Days after a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people, the community has been rallying together, showing support for the first responders.

Before the Penguins played the Islanders on Tuesday, grateful fans gave a standing ovation to two of them — officers Mike Smidga and Anthony Burke. It was their first public appearance since the massacre.

In solidarity, the Penguins wore a special “stronger than hate” patch with a Star of David. Honored with the puck drop were 27-year-old Burke, his arm in a sling, and 39-year-old Smidga, one of the first to engage the gunman. They were two of the six officers wounded Saturday. 

We’re honored to have Officer Mike Smidga, Chief Scott Schuber, and Officer Anthony Burke join us for tonight’s ceremonial puck drop.

Thank you. pic.twitter.com/Rxlv8EBCxy

Timothy Matson, who was shot seven times, is still in the hospital. Daniel Mead was shot in the hand. John Persin and Tyler Pashel were also wounded as they faced a gunman armed with a high powered AR-15 rifle and three handguns.

Rabbi Doris Dyen saw first hand the heroic actions of the officers who arrived moments after the shooting began.

“I was just so grateful that they arrived when they did, as quickly as they did. Did what they needed to do. Put themselves in danger so that our folks as many as possible could get out,” she said.

Community gratitude has been contagious, including at the police station where the first responders came from, just two blocks from the synagogue. Inside, there are thank you notes, including one from a 6-year-old.

Mr. Fred Rogers, who lived in the neighborhood, used to tell children that in times of trouble, look for the helpers. 

Mr. Rogers, we found them.

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