Robert Bowers Charged For Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Deaths, Injuries

by Kim Boateng Posted on October 28th, 2018

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA : The Department of Justice announced late Saturday that 29 federal charges had been filed against Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers, including 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death; 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence; four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

The criminal complaint will be available Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

Bowers burst into the Tree of Life Congregation and indiscriminately fired inside while shouting, “All Jews must die,” police said. He was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns during the 20-minute assault.

Six of the injured included four police officers. Their injuries are believed to be non-life-threatening.

Robert Bowers, 48, was identified as the gunman in the deadly attack, law enforcement said.

His online activity shows he posted anti-Semitic threats and conspiracy theories in the weeks before Saturday’s shooting. Bowers was a regular user on Gab, a social network often associated with white supremacists and extremists.

Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Congregation shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners.

Wendell Hissrich, the city’s public safety director, said there was no further threat to the public. He said the shooting is being investigated as a federal hate crime. “It’s a very horrific crime scene,” he said in a news conference. “It’s one of the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve been on some plane crashes. It’s very bad.”

Tree of Life is located in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, which is known as the heart of the local Jewish community.

Robert Jones, head of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office, said worshipers at the synagogue were “brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith.” Jones said Bowers’ full motive is unknown, but said investigators believe he acted alone.

Gov. Tom Wolf arrived at the scene Saturday and called the attack an “absolute tragedy.”

“These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans,” Wolf said in a statement. “My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need.”

President Trump called the shooting was “far more devastating” than anyone previously thought. Mr. Trump said there would have been a different outcome if the synagogue had an armed guard at the building.

“If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him, maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, adding that the U.S. should “stiffen up” its laws on the death penalty.

“When people do this, they should get the death penalty,” he added. “And they shouldn’t have to wait years and years. I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue.”

President Trump continued with a rally in Illinois on Saturday night, comparing it the re-opening of the New York Stock Exchange after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Trump said incorrectly that NYSE opened “the day after 9/11,” although it was actually closed for six days after the terrorist attack.

Mr. Trump said we can’t let “sick” and “demented” people run our lives.

“We have our lives,” Mr. Trump said. j”We have our schedules. And nobody’s going to change it. So we’re here. And let’s have a good time. And if you don’t mind, I’m going to tone it down just a little bit.”

Sunday’s shooting in Pittsburgh is likely the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The shooting left 11 people killed and six others wounded, including four police officers.

“Our hearts break for the families of those killed and injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and for the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh,” Greenblatt said in a statement. He said the attack comes at a time when his group has reported a historic increase in anti-Semitic incidents and harassment.

He added, “As we mourn those lost and search for answers, ADL will remain steadfast in its mission to fight anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it may occur.”

President Trump says he will travel to Pittsburgh following today’s mass shooting. He offered no details as to when he will make the trip to the city.

Professional sports teams in Pittsburgh, including the Steelers and Pirates, issued statements of condolences and support following Saturday’s shooting.

We send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by this morning’s tragedy in Pittsburgh. We will continue to pray for everyone involved. — Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 27, 2018.

Our hearts break at the news of this morning’s tragedy in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this horrible event. — Pirates (@Pirates) October 27, 2018
Several Steelers players also tweeted their support. “Prayers Up for Pittsburgh,” Antonio Brown wrote.

“My prayers goes out to families of the victims, everyone in the city of Pittsburgh, and the Jewish-American community, I can’t believe the news. Stay strong,” JuJu Smith-Schuster tweeted.

The Justice Department said it would file hate crime charges against suspect Robert Bowers and said the charges could lead to the death penalty.

“Today 11 innocent people were suddenly and viciously murdered during religious services,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement Saturday. “These alleged crimes are reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation.”

Sessions also thanked officers who confronted the gunman, including the four officers who were wounded. “These officers ran to danger to save others, which reflects the highest traditions of policing in this country,” he added. “There can be no doubt that they saved lives today.”

A GoFundMe has been created for the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. The proceeds will help the family of victims and survivors. A GoFundMe spokesperson tells CBS News the campaign is certified, meaning “all money raised will be transferred directly to the Tree of Life Congregation.”

“This fundraiser is meant to help the congregations with the physical damages on the building and the survivors and the victims’ families,” the fundraiser reads.

The GoFundMe raised more than $33,000 of its $50,000 goal.

Police received calls regarding an active shooter at 9:54 a.m. on Saturday. Officers were sent to the shooting scene one minute later. The suspected gunman, Robert Bowers, spent 20 minutes inside the synagogue before police arrived, FBI Special Agent Robert Jones said.

When Bowers attempted to exit the building, he encountered two police officers and exchanged gunfire with them. Both of the officers were wounded, Jones said. Bowers retreated back into the building to hide from two additional officers who were arriving at the scene.

The two officers engaged the suspect inside the building and one was injured. He eventually surrendered to police and was taken into custody.

“Multiple agencies responded to this incident this morning and without their courage, this tragedy would have been far worse,” Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s public safety director, said Saturday.

The shooting suspect, Robert Bowers, was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns, Robert Jones of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office said Saturday. Jones said it is unclear how Bowers obtained the guns and if he used all three handguns during the attack.

Wendell Hissrich, the city’s public safety director, would not say if Bowers was cooperating with investigators. He was transferred to a local hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, Hissrich said. He is listed in fair condition.

Eleven people were killed and six others were injured in Saturday’s shooting, Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s public safety director, said in a news conference.

Hissrich said no children were killed in the shooting and four of the injured were police officers.

Authorities have not released names of the victims.

Michael Eisenberg, a former president of the Tree of Life Congregation, said the synagogue never received any threats in the past.

“No, we’ve never had any threats. I will tell you, I’ve always had a very watchful eye because of what’s going on in the current climate,” he told KDKA. “You see these bombs being mailed across the country and our security was really just no one has ever tried.”

He added, “It was just a fact that nobody ever tried to do anything because, like most religious institutions we have an open door.”

Speaking at the Future Farmers of America Convention, President Trump said he would not cancel his rally in Murphysboro, Illinois, on Saturday afternoon.

“At first I was thinking I will cancel. Then I said, ‘we can’t let evil change our life and change our schedule. We can’t do that.’ We have to go and do wherever we were going to do or otherwise we give them too much credit. We make them too important. And you go with a heavy heart but you go.

Speaking at the Future Farmers of America Convention, President Trump said he would not cancel his rally in Murphysboro, Illinois, on Saturday afternoon.

“At first I was thinking I will cancel. Then I said, ‘we can’t let evil change our life and change our schedule. We can’t do that.’ We have to go and do wherever we were going to do or otherwise we give them too much credit. We make them too important. And you go with a heavy heart but you go.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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