UPDATE — 10/31, 2:45 p.m. EDT: Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers was indicted on 44 federal counts Wednesday, including charges which carry the death penalty.
Bowers is an independent commercial truck driver from southwestern Pennsylvania currently being held without bail.
On Saturday morning, a Pittsburgh synagogue, typically a center for peace and alleviation, became a place of chaos and destruction as Robert Bowers entered the temple with an AR-15 and multiple handguns, shouting “All Jews must die” before opening fire, killing 11 and injuring 6 more.
Bowers, 46, sprayed the synagogue with bullets for several minutes before engaging police officers outside the building in a shootout. Bowers exchanged fire with SWAT team members for several minutes, resulting in four officers being wounded, as well as Bowers himself.
Bowers eventually surrendered and was taken into custody, telling a SWAT member: “(Jewish people are) committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews.”
Wendell Hissrich, the city’s public safety director, described the mass shooting’s aftermath:
“It’s a very horrific crime scene. It’s one of the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve been on some plane crashes.”
While Bowers has no prior criminal history, the mid-aged suspect does have a record of posting racist and anti-Semitic comments on Gab, a two-year old social media site that bills itself as a “free speech” network and has become a haven for extremist groups.
Before carrying out the massacre, Bowers wrote a farewell message: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Bowers has been charged with 29 federal counts, including obstructing the free exercise of religion and a hate crime. The suspect also faces state charges, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.
The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting is not the only divisive event to occur this past week, as mail bombs were also sent to several prominent Democrats and a swastika was drawn on Missouri Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley’s campaign sign.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 24, 2018
With the 2018 midterms just over a week away, Americans are increasingly on-edge, with some blaming President Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
The past two decades have proven to be one of the most divisive eras in American history, but its citizens must band together and resist the hate which currently pervades society.
[CBS Pittsburgh] [Washington Post] [New York Times] [The Hill] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy CNN via FOX8]