The DOJ Wants the Death Penalty for the Accused Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter

The shooter is accused of killing 11 people attending Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue last October.
August 26, 2019, 8:48pm
A woman leaves flowers on a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Monday, April 29, 2019. A gunman opened fire on Saturday, April 27 as dozens of people were worshipping exactly six months after a mass

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Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the man who's accused of killing 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, the Justice Department said Monday.

Robert Bowers, 46, walked into the Tree of Life synagogue on the morning of Oct. 27 armed with an AR-15 and three semi-automatic pistols and opened fire on worshippers who’d gathered there for their Saturday Shabbat service.

Survivors told investigators that he shouted “All Jews must die” during the attack. He then continued to make violently anti-Semitic comments while he was in custody and receiving medical treatment, according to the federal complaint.

In prosecutors’ statement of intent to seek the death penalty, they said that the gunman demonstrated a lack of remorse for his actions that day — one of the aggravating factors they’d considered. They also noted his “substantial planning and premeditation,” and his decision to target “vulnerable victims,” all aged between 54 and 97.

He was indicted in January on 63 federal crimes, including 11 hate crimes leading to death. Twenty-two of those federal crimes carried the possibility of the death penalty. He’s also facing 36 counts in Pennsylvania State Court.

The DOJ’s decision to sentence him to death comes one month after Attorney General William Barr directed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to resume federal executions after a 16-year de facto moratorium on the federal death penalty.

Cover: A woman leaves flowers on a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Monday, April 29, 2019. A gunman opened fire on Saturday, April 27 as dozens of people were worshipping exactly six months after a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)