Two cities united by grief after shootings
I came from Pittsburgh hours after Wednesday’s shooting, where another gunman had killed 11 people less than two weeks before.
Both are well-off areas where nobody could have ever believed an atrocity like this could affect their community.
Thousand Oaks was the country’s 307th mass shooting – where four or more people are killed – in the US so far this year and the reaction is the same every time – how could it happen here?
When the third safest city in America this year becomes a victim, where is there to go? How many lives have to be taken for US gun laws to change?
Last month’s deadly shooting in Pittsburgh – at a synagogue – dominated the city’s midterm voting.
The tragedy in the Squirrel Hill district of the Pennsylvanian city is still very raw, and for many the end of the midterms represents a time when they can now grieve without the politics.
On Tuesday, the memory of the 11 people killed and six injured was marred as posters affiliated with the neo-Nazi Patriot Front group appeared on lampposts in the south Pittsburgh area of Brookline.
Pittsburghers had dealt with a lot, with most people in the city not appreciating Donald Trump swooping in to make the shooting part of the Republican election campaign.
There were protests when he came and his reaction definitely had an effect on voter turnout – illustrated by queues outside the Carnegie Library polling station just a few minutes from the Tree of Life synagogue.
Turnout across the city was estimated to have reached record numbers.
In the next door student area of Oakland triple the number of people came to vote than in 2016, resulting in a firm Democratic win.
Across Pittsburgh people of all faiths and backgrounds were wearing T-shirts supporting the Jewish community, saying #strongerthanhate, while many voters were given stickers with the same slogan.
Carnegie Mellon University student Jacob Feldgoise, 19, told Sky News: “There was a lot of frustration, anger and sadness.
“The shooting hit me very very hard, and hit a lot of my friends extremely hard as well.
“It was so unexpected. This felt like a safe place for us and it doesn’t feel nearly as safe as it did.
“The fact that Trump decided to come days after the shooting, a lot of us were very upset about that.
“This is a very liberal area, especially in Squirrel Hill, most people disagree with what he’s done, his platform, his vitriol.
“So to have him come and pay his respects days after a traumatic event like that and try to force his perspective on gun rights down our throats was just insulting.
“It was uncalled for and it was too soon.”
People were keen to vote after Mr Trump’s visit, in opposition to him, but for most their visit to the polling booth was just a few moments away from focusing on their devastated community.
Following the massacre, more than $556,000 (£427,000) was crowdfunded to support the Tree of Life synagogue, the victims’ families and its three congregations.
Local businesses donated tens of thousands of dollars, while individuals mostly donated $200 or less, showing just how much support it has had.
As one Pittsburgher said: “We will not be divided by this, the whole city has come together over a tragedy we never thought would happen here.”