FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pittsburgh natives gathered at Buffalo Wings and Rings in Fort Myers to cheer on their home team the Steelers and to reflect on the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
“I look at my community and think what happened…it just tears me apart,” said Maxine, who grew up in the neighborhood where the mass shooting happened. She said she also visited the synagogue.
“I remember growing up in Squirrel Hill, never being afraid. I didn't even know what anti-semitism was as a child. Friends of mine who were bar mitzvahed and bas mitzvahed would invite me to their ceremonies. I remember it being a very beautiful synagogue,” she said.
She said she dreaded hearing the list of victims released today, but was relieved to find out she did not know any of them.
Martha Matter's granddaughter attends Chatham University, just blocks away from Tree of Life. She said the campus was on lockdown during the attack.
“I’m down here in Florida and they're in Pittsburgh. You just don't know what they're doing. It's scary to think that your grandchildren could be hurt by senseless things that happen in this country,” said Matter.
The Steelers fans said they wish more could be done to prevent something like this from happening again, but just don't know how.
“I wish I knew what would solve it,” said Original Steelers Fan Club of Fort Myers manager Gordon Lytle. He also said old solutions aren't good enough.
“They've tried prisons and that doesn't work. It's something deeper than that has to be done,” Lytle said.
Maxine’s husband Harvey said he believes stricter gun control is the answer.
“I think our laws have to be changed as far as the assault rifles should be taken away. They should be banned,” said Harvey.
He added there should be more support for people with mental illness since that seems to be common among many mass shooters.
“Why would we need guns in a house of worship..but that's what this world is sadly coming to,” said Matter.
Harvey's synagogue Temple Shalom in Naples will remember the victims Friday night at 7:30pm.