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Testimony: Pittsburgh cop drove 100 mph to reach Tree of Life synagogue

The judge overruled the defense’s attempt to limit the number of grisly crime-scene photos the prosecution could present, though directed the jury not to let the photos prejudice them.

Emergency personnel on the scene after a gunman killed 11 people and injured four others at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. Source: Screenshot.
Emergency personnel on the scene after a gunman killed 11 people and injured four others at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. Source: Screenshot.

After a week of testimony from survivors in the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting trial, a city police officer offered his perspective on the Shabbat-morning attack in October 2018 that left 11 Jewish worshippers dead.

Officer Michael Saldutte testified that he drove faster than 100 miles per hour to reach the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood after he learned about the attack.

Upon arrival, Saldutte said he smelled gunpowder and saw bodies in pools of blood, the officer testified. After the judge directed the jury not to let their emotional response to photos prejudice them against the defendant, the prosecution presented some grisly images.

According to news reports, the judge then called a recess, Saldutte described the firefight between him and the shooter, and the prosecution played audio recorded at the scene.

Saldutte testified that as the two exchanged gunfire, the defendant, Robert Bowers, said: “The Jews are killing our women and children” and “I had to do this.”

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