PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — She’s a survivor, but also the sister of one of the victims.
Carol Gottfried-Black was there when events began unfolding last weekend at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
She says once she escaped, she held out hope, but realized her brother and friends had been kill because of where they were inside.
Now, she’s telling her emotional story. We want to warn you that some of the details may be tough to read.
“It’s starting to have a finality to me that… that he’s gone,” Carol says.
Carol is the sister of Dr. Richard Gottfried, who was killed by the gunman who opened fire inside the synagogue last Saturday morning.
“I heard the first sound. I didn’t know what that sound was, it was a loud crash. To me, it sounded like somebody had taken a big metal table and dropped it on a tile floor,” Carol said.
She says about a minute later, she heard another sound, this time, it was closer.
“That was when the rabbi figured out that… what was going on,” she said.
Carol says the rabbi moved the people out of the congregation and into the back of the sanctuary.
“Barry and I went into the storage area and stayed there,” Carol said.
She says Melvin Wax, one of the victims, was hard of hearing. Because of that he thought the danger had passed and emerged from his hiding place.
“So, he opened the door and peaked out, and the gunman was still in the sanctuary, looking for more people to eliminate and saw him, and he came into the area and shot him,” Carol said. “It was pitch black in the area that we were, and he didn’t see us, so he didn’t know we were there; otherwise, we wouldn’t be here talking.”
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She says she never saw suspected shooter Robert Bowers, just his shadow.
“Barry called 911 and those wonderful people remained on the phone with him until the SWAT team came to rescue us,” Carol said.
She says they were put in the back of a police car for safety.
“We knew what was going on because the radio was on in the police car, so we could hear all of the communications among the police officers,” said Carol.
She says when the SWAT team finally found Bowers, he barricaded himself on the third floor. Then, when he realized he had nowhere else to go, he surrendered.
But not before 11 lives were lost, including Carol’s brother, who she says she misses very much.
“It’s a crushing blow,” she said.