PITTSBURGH -- Rich Fitzgerald’s wife Cathy was on a Saturday walk on Wilkins Avenue just 50 yards from the Tree of Life Synagogue when she heard the “pop, pop, pop” of gun shots and spotted a policeman jump out of his vehicle and crouch behind it. She turned and ran.

“Another minute or two, if she had continued on her walk, she would have been right in front of the scene,” he said of the temple where 11 of the Fitzgerald’s neighbors were massacred in a house of worship in which more than 100 people were in attendance during a bris.

It became the largest mass shooting targeting Jews in American history.

Police could be heard on their radios reporting that the shooter was saying, “these Jews must die.“

Fitzgerald, 59, sounded broken. The chief executive of Allegheny County, the county that surrounds and includes the city of Pittsburgh, he is also a resident, living just blocks from the neighborhood temple where he and Cathy raised their eight children.

He is first to commend the coordinated effort of the SWAT teams that responded, first the city then the county, “All these heroes that rush in there when the gun fire's coming out, it's just ... yeah. I'm in awe of them.”

All day Saturday, Fitzgerald’s phone blew up with calls that it eventually died. “The outpouring of support from the texts and the emails from people around the state, around the region, around everywhere was just ... I mean, the nation was pouring their hearts out to Pittsburgh and to Squirrel Hill and ... I thought that I'd never think about it. I've loved this community, I loved raising my kids here. Cathy and I talk about how special it is and I guess I was just reminded of it again yesterday," he said.

[Opinion: I'm a Squirrel Hill Jew, and you cannot break me]

One of the critically important things seen yesterday from leaders from across the state and the region was that not one of them made it political. Democratic Congressmen Conor Lamb and Republican Keith Rothfus, who face each other in an election in 10 days, stood side by side of each other. So did Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican Speaker of the House Mike Turzai.

None of them mentioned politics or political motivations at the same time social media and news organizations lined up people railing against each other over which political side was to blame.

Fitzgerald said no one in the region’s leadership was having any part of that, “Well, again, to see so many people come together and be part of a support system. It's a special place, and I think people here kind of realize that, and for me, the surreal part yesterday, was standing on Murray Avenue with all these other elected officials, and you had the governor, Sen. [Bob]Casey, and Speaker Turzai, and Congressman Lamb and Rothfus and Mike Doyle, everybody's there,” he said.

And we were all one community, he said.

We're standing on Murray Avenue, which you never are able to do right?

An impromptu vigil sprung up blocks from the Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday night as hundreds and hundreds of people from across the county stood in the 40 degree rain holding candles, holding each other, every race, every religion, the entire melting pot of Pittsburgh were represented and gathered to mourn their own.