Winthrop congregation gathers at temple in wake of deadly shooting

WINTHROP, Mass. — There was an increased police presence outside the Jewish Temple in Winthrop Wednesday night as the congregation came together following this weekend’s deadly shooting.

“You’re shocked, you’re saddened by it, but you’re not surprised,” said Alex Powell, heading into a meeting at the temple. “There’s no better time to come together then during an atrocious act of violence. And whether it was aimed at anti-Semitism or racism, it’s the duty of the people affected to come together.”

Investigators said the gunman, who was killed by police, had written anti-Semitic and racist messages, and now the head of the temple says police are looking into whether this temple was his original target.

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“It’s terrifying because I have family and friends that come here,” said Bob Kaiser, who came to the temple Wednesday. “We were horrified and numb but not completely surprised.”

“Clearly it’s very upsetting and it’s very distressing,” said Josh Schreiber, the Rabbinic intern for Temple Tifereth Israel in Winthrop. “It’s something we’ve been seeing across the country, in fact it’s on the rise in Europe as well, and it’s distressing when things like that come close to home.”

Down the street, the town also offered support services for the community traumatized by this attack.

>>>MORE: Families of Winthrop shooting victims remember loved ones lost

“We’re hearing people a lot of the ‘if I was there,’ or ‘I could have been there,’ or ‘if I took a left instead of taking a right,’ so people are feeling that vulnerability really raw,” said Meredith Hurley, the public health director for the Town of Winthrop.

Hurley said dozens of people showed up at the senior center looking for help after some of them witnessed a man shoot and kill an Air Force veteran and retired state trooper in the street Saturday.

“We see parents that are concerned about what their kids are expressing, there are folks that are having a hard time sleeping,” Hurley said.

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Right now, she said they’re listening to the community’s needs to figure out what other services they can provide.

Therapy dogs were also called in to help, especially for the children.

“They’ll pet the dogs, they may not want to say anything, but just like after Sandy Hook, the dogs went down there, the kids will pet the dogs and the adults too and they’ll be crying in there and they’re petting the dogs,” said Michelle Whall with the Southeastern Massachusetts Paws of Comfort Lions Club.

As police continue to investigate whether this was a hate crime, the community is only beginning the healing process.

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“This shows that it doesn’t matter if we are Black or if we’re Jewish or if we’re in any other minority group,” Kaiser said. “If any of those people hate any of us, they hate all of us, but if we work together, we can do something about this.”

A community vigil honoring the victims of last weekend’s shooting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Winthrop Thursday night.