U.S. NEWS

19 New Charges Filed Against Alleged Tree Of Life Synagogue Shooter

If convicted, Robert Bowers could face the death penalty for a mass shooting that left 11 dead in a quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood.

A federal grand jury has pinned 19 additional charges on the man accused of murdering 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in October.

Robert Bowers, 46, now faces a total of 63 criminal counts for allegedly perpetuating the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history. The new charges, outlined in a superseding indictment filed Tuesday, include 13 additional hate crime violations along with six additional firearm violations. 

If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison. 

Bowers demonstrated a history of anti-Semitic sentiment long before he allegedly approached the synagogue on the morning of Oct. 27 with three Glock handguns and a Colt rifle, shouting, “All Jews must die!” 

The former truck driver was active on Gab, a social network popular with right-wing extremists, where he would rage against Jewish people and refugees, as previously reported by HuffPost

Before the shooting, Bowers used Gab to complain about the refugee aid group Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, a target of far-right conspiracies. The group “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” Bowers claimed, adding that he no longer felt as if he could “sit by and watch.” 

“Screw your optics, I’m going in,” he wrote.

Around two hours later, Bowers allegedly barged into a building where members of three Jewish congregations were gathered, opened fire, and barricaded himself against law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.

Bowers pleaded not guilty to the 44 original counts filed against him in the days following the mass shooting ― which could have led to a death penalty conviction on their own. 

The 11 murdered victims, ranging in age from 54 to 97, included one pair of brothers and one elderly married couple. Prosecutors say Bowers also injured two other congregants and five public safety officers.

In all, the charges against him include obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs, hate crimes resulting in death, hate crimes involving an attempt to kill and 25 counts of discharging a firearm. 

CONVERSATIONS