tel aviv gay shooting 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Two people were killed on Saturday night and several others were wounded when a gunman burst into a gay community center in the heart of Tel Aviv and opened fire with a machine gun.
The bodies of the two fatalities were found in the center by paramedics, while the injured were rushed to the Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) in Tel Aviv. Two victims were listed in critical condition, while three additional people were moderately hurt, Magen David Adom paramedics said. Several others were lightly wounded in the attack.
The dead were identified by Israel Radio as a 17-year-old girl from Holon and a 24-year-old guide from Givatayim.
Police launched a massive manhunt for the perpetrator, who according to eyewitnesses was dressed in black. Large numbers of emergency vehicles converged on the scene, and patrol cars could be seen scouring the area for the gunman. A police crime scene investigation unit gathered evidence from the scene and a gag order was later placed on the details of the investigation.
Hundreds of local residents gathered around police lines, and tearful members of the local gay community wandered around the scene looking traumatized.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said police had stepped up security around other gay centers and potential targets.
"This is a most severe incident. The police are investing major resources and means to capture this murderer and his accomplices," Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. David Cohen said, speaking from the murder scene.
"These were teenagers," Yaniv Weisman, chairman of the Israeli Gay Youth organization, told The Jerusalem Post.
With tears in his eyes, Weisman added, "They came to this center from across the country to talk to one another and receive help. This was supposed to be a safe place for them. Someone knew what they were doing when they came here. This is not a pub or a club."
"Today, someone sent a message that gays in Tel Aviv and Israel are not safe," Weisman said.