Synagogue shooter hit with 29 hate crime charges
Federal prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a Pennsylvania man who authorities say stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people.
Robert Bowers, 46, of suburban Baldwin, surrendered to authorities after Saturday morning’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. It’s believed he made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting and targeted Jews in posts on social media that are a focus of the investigation, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Bowers faces 29 charges in all in a rampage that left the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, and the rest of the nation stunned. The attack was believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish community in US history, the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.
“These incidents usually occur in other cities,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters Saturday afternoon. “Today, the nightmare has hit home in the city of Pittsburgh.”
Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of two hate crimes: obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, authorities said, citing a criminal complaint, which is sealed.
“The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes,” US Attorney Scott W. Brady and Bob Jones, FBI special agent in charge of Pittsburgh office, said in a statement.
Bowers could face the death penalty if he is convicted of a hate crime.