Holocaust survivor lives through Pittsburgh synagogue shooting after arriving four minutes late to services

An 80-year-old Holocaust survivor lived through the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on Saturday after showing up four minutes late to services.

Judah Samet, a former New Yorker, arrived in time to see Robert Bowers exchange gunfire with police outside the synagogue. Eleven people were killed and six others were injured, but Samet was unharmed.


“The only thought I had is, it never stops,” he told the Daily News on Monday. “For Jews, it never stops.”

He was late to the Saturday services because he was speaking with his housekeeper. He lives only a few minutes from the synagogue, which is located in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.


He said someone knocked on his window when he pulled into the parking lot at the synagogue. It turned out to be a detective who said there was an active shooter at the building.

Samet moved around inside his car so he could get a better view of the gunman, who was outside the synagogue at the time.

“He kept shooting his pistol. Three shots,” Samet recalled. “After the second time, I wanted to see who he was shooting at. I bent over on the passenger side, and I see the guy shooting back, and it's some kind of sub-machine gun. Like something on those shows like ‘NCIS.’”

Cops say Bowers had an AR-15 rifle and three other guns. He would later go back inside the synagogue to continue shooting.

Samet, a member of his Pittsburgh congregation for more than five decades, knew all the victims and usually sat in front of 97-year-old Rose Mallinger during services.

“Had I been inside, I would have been dead for sure,” he said.

Samet was born in Hungary and was 6 when he was held at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany for nearly a year. More than 50,000 were killed there.

He said his mother kept him and other members of the family out of harm’s way.


”She had us 7-24,” he said. “She protected us.”

Samet would serve in the Israeli army and later moved to Brooklyn. He met his wife Barbara at a bar mitzvah on Long Island in the early 1960s, and they got married and moved to Pittsburgh in 1963. She passed away five years ago.

A Republican, Samet said he did not want to talk politics, but did say that President Trump is “the best thing for Israel.”

“He’s doing a good job for the country, I don’t care what he is personally,” he said.