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Tree of Life rabbi: 'We will rebuild' after deadly shooting at synagogue

"We've got to stop the hate," Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said in the wake of the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
/ Source: TODAY

The rabbi who was conducting services at a Pittsburgh synagogue when a gunman opened fire and killed 11 people on Saturday described the horrific scene and vowed that the congregation will rebuild after the tragedy.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers spoke in an emotional interview with Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Monday about how the Tree of Life synagogue community will try to move forward after Saturday's attack.

"For a moment I felt like I'm standing in a cemetery and this is a massive mausoleum,'' he said. "It's my home and it's been desecrated.

"(The building) can't be used again in its present condition. The bullet holes are too numerous to count, but we will rebuild because we're Tree of Life. We've been here 154 years and you can cut off some branches, but the tree will continue to grow, and we will be back."

Alleged gunman Robert Bowers is set to appear on court Monday to face 29 federal charges, including 11 for murder. The 46-year-old made a series of anti-Semitic posts online ahead of the shooting, authorities said.

"There is hate, and it isn't going away,'' Myers said. "It just seems to be getting worse."

Myers said he would be willing to meet with President Trump to speak with him about the shooting.

"These are good, decent people,'' he said. "They didn't have an ounce of hate in any of them. We turn to the leaders of our country.

"We've got to stop hate and it can't just be to say we need to stop hate. We need to do, we need to act, to tone down rhetoric. Hate is not welcome here in Pittsburgh. It should not be welcome in our borders at all."

Myers was conducting services at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday when he heard the sound of crashing metal and then gunfire. He told the congregants to drop to the floor and remain still and silent, hoping the thick wooden pews would serve as protection.

He never saw the gunman or heard him say anything. Myers ran upstairs and immediately called 911 before hiding in a bathroom.

"I went up into the choir loft, and I heard him execute my congregants,'' he said. "I didn't watch. I couldn't watch."

Myers is still trying to process what happened.

"I think it's a mixture of anger, of disbelief,'' he said. "Am I really experiencing this? Is this just some horrific nightmare and am I gonna wake up?"