The family of one of the 11 people killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue said they declined a meeting with President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE because of his “inappropriate” response to the tragedy.
Daniel Stein, 71, who recently become a grandfather, was one of those fatally shot inside the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
His nephew, Stephen Halle, told The Washington Post Tuesday that the family turned down an offer from the president to meet with them.
Halle said the rejection came after the president said an armed guard inside the place of worship would have been able to stop the gunman “immediately.”
“Everybody feels that they were inappropriate,” Halle said of Trump's comments. “He was blaming the community.”
“A church, a synagogue, should not be a fortress. It should be an open, welcoming place to feel safe,” he continued.
Stein’s funeral coincides with the day the president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE are scheduled to visit Pittsburgh, although it is unclear if they will visit the predominately Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) suggested on Monday that the president should reschedule his visit on a different day so it doesn’t overlap with the funerals.
“I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on the families this week and if he were to visit choose a different time to be able to do it,” Peduto said on CNN. “Our focus as a city will be on the families and the outreach they will need this week and the support they’ll need to get through it.”
Nearly 70,000 people as of Tuesday have signed a petition from progressive Jewish organization Bend The Arc telling the president that he is not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” Bend the Arc wrote in the letter.
The Tree of Life synagogue's rabbi, however, said that Trump is “always welcome.”
Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night that he was going to pay his respects.
“I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt,” Trump said. “I really look forward to going. I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt anymore than they already had disruption.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got emotional during a Monday press briefing while delivering a defense of Trump’s connections with the Jewish community, noting he is "the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren."
"The president cherishes the American Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country," she said.
"We all have a duty to confront anti-Semitism in all its forms and everywhere and anywhere it appears," she continued. "The American people reject hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence."
Eleven congregants were killed on Saturday after a gunman opened fire, allegedly yelling, “All Jews must die.”
The suspect, Robert Bowers, had reportedly ranted online and claimed that Jews were bringing “invaders in that kill our people,” the Post noted.
He was referring to a Jewish organization that works with refugees entering the U.S.
The Post noted that Trump has referred to migrants as invaders in the past and said on Monday that the military was waiting to stop the “invasion.”
The Anti-Defamation League said the shooting was likely the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history.
Bowers is in custody and has been charged with 29 counts, including multiple hate crimes.