HUNTSVILLE, Ala - The man charged with killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which include committing a hate crime. Robert Bowers is facing 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of two hate crimes.
Even though the attack happened in Pennsylvania, grief for the lives lost is being felt right here in Huntsville. Friday at candlelight vigil was held at Temple B'Nai Sholom in Huntsville.
"The roots of hate do run deep. But what runs deeper? Love," Rabbi Eric Berk said to a crowd. He lead the vigil for the victims of the synagogue shooting where a candle was lit for each victim.
"These 11 murdered individuals have names and have had lives, lived lives that were snuffed out so cruelly."
The shooting sent shock waves across the country.
"I was shocked speechless. I couldn't believe it was happening," he said. "For any of us who think it's gone the event in Pittsburgh demonstrates that antisemitism and really deep-rooted hatred is still very much with us."
He says this attack affected everyone in the faith community.
"An attack on any house of worship is an attack on every house of worship."
It was a sentiment echoed by people from different faiths who attended the vigil.
"We really want to show that we want to support each other and one another," said Kyle Speas, a Madison resident. He attended the vigil with his wife Jennifer. They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The crowd spilled off the sidewalks and crossed the street. What Rabbi Berk hopes people take away from the vigil is a sense of hope and strength.
"That there are more of us who support each other and accept each other than there are those who hate us," he said.
He says the size of the crowd was heartwarming and it shows just how strong the interfaith community in the area really is.
There was a police presence at the event. Uniformed off-duty officers were there and patrol cars stopped traffic outside during the vigil.