Robert Bowers perpetrated the deadliest antisemitic assault of its kind in U.S. history when he took over at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
Robert Bowers, gunman in Pittsburgh synagogue attack was executed.
Pittsburgh — The man attacked a synagogue located in the middle of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and killed eleven members of the congregation will be sentenced to execution for the most heinous antisemitic crime that has occurred in U.S. history, a jury found this week.
Robert Bowers spewed hatred of Jews and professed racist views on the internet before carefully planning and conducting the murders of the year 2018 on the Tree of Life synagogue, in which three different congregations were gathered for the Sabbath and to study. Bowers is the truck driver of the suburb of Baldwin and wounded the worshippers as well as five police officers.
The federal jury which convicted 50-year-old Bowers on 63 charges of criminality suggested Wednesday that he should be sentenced to be executed in connection with an assault whose repercussions remain reverberating for nearly five years after. Bowers did not show any emotion when the verdict was announced. He only briefly addressing the legal team as well as his family when he left the courtroom. A judge will formalize the sentence at a later date.
The jury was unanimous in determining that Bowers action was driven by his hate for Jews and Bowers chose Tree of Life for its site in one of the largest and longest-running Jewish communities within the U.S. so that he could “maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national, and international Jewish communities.” The jury also concluded that Bowers had no remorse.
The family of 97-year old Rose Mallinger, who was murdered in the attack as well as her daughter Andrea Wedner, who was wounded and shot, thanked the jurors, and declared that “a measure of justice has been served.””Returning a sentence of death is not a decision that comes easy, but we must hold accountable those who wish to commit such terrible acts of antisemitism, hate, and violence,” the family stated in a letter.
Bowers the lead attorney for defense, Judy Clarke, declined the request for comment.
The verdict was handed down following an extended trial during which the jury was told in terrifying details of the way Bowers was able to reload at least twice as he walked across the bloody body of one victim in search for other people who could be shot before surrendering only after his ammunition was exhausted. The sentencing portion of the trial the grieving relatives of Bowers spoke to jurors about the lives Bowers lost – including a 97-year-old woman as well as two intellectually impaired brothers of them all – and the constant pain they felt from the loss of their loved ones. Witnesses from the survivors’ perspective shared their long-lasting pain, psychological and physical.
All through, Bowers showed little reaction to the trial which would determine his fate. He would often stare down at screens or papers at the courtroom – even though he was having lengthy conversations with his legal team at breaks. Even a psychiatrist told him that he felt this trial could help promote his antisemitic views.
The first death penalty imposed by the federal government under the administration of Joe Biden his 2020 campaign, which also included a promise to stop capital punishment. Biden’s Justice Department has placed a suspension on federal executions, and has resisted the authorization of the death penalty for hundreds of new cases for which the death penalty could be used. Federal prosecutors, however, said that death was the right punishment for Bowers and cited his vulnerability to elderly victims, as well as his anti-Christian attack on a religion-based community. The majority of victims’ families however, not all of them, claimed that Bowers should be put to death for the crimes he committed.
“Many of our members prefer that the shooter spend the rest of his life in prison, questioning whether we should seek vengeance or revenge against him or whether his death would ‘make up’ for the lost lives,” in a press release issued by Stephen Cohen and Barbara Caplan who are co-presidents of New Light Congregation, which has lost three of its members in the assault.
However, the congregation in general, as it was stated, “agrees with the government’s position that no one may murder innocent individuals simply because of their religion. … New Light Congregation accepts the jury’s decision and believes that, as a society, we need to take a stand that this act requires the ultimate penalty under the law.”
Bowers lawyer never contest the guilt of their client, instead focusing their efforts on attempting to protect his life. They provided the evidence of his horrific childhood that was characterized by trauma and neglect. They added that Bowers suffered from a severe and untreated mental illness. They claimed that he committed murder because of a illusion that Jews are causing the mass murder of whites. The defense claimed that brain disorders and schizophrenia led to Bowers more vulnerable to the influence of radical content on the internet.
The government denied that mental illness was in any way related to it the prosecution claimed Bowers was conscious of exactly what he was doing at the time it came to trespassing on the sacredness of a place of worship in firing on people in fear by using an AR-15 rifle, as well as other guns, and shooting anyone that he could.
The jury was in favor of prosecutorial counsel, rejecting the majority of the main defense arguments against the life sentence. This included the fact that he is schizophrenic and that his misperceptions concerning Jewish individuals prompted the assault. The jury did decide that his troubled childhood deserved attention, however they gave greater significance to the gravity of the crime.
Bowers blasts his way through Tree of Life on Oct. 27, 2018 and also killed members of members of the Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life congregations, who shared the synagogue.
The victims who died as well as Mallinger In addition, there were Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 Brothers David Rosenthal, 54, and Cecil Rosenthal, 59; Bernice Simon, aged 84 and her husband Sylvan Simon who is 86 years old; Dan Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 87; and Irving Younger, 69.
Bowers were shot in the face with the responding police officers, and was struck three times, reportedly told police in the aftermath at the scene that “all these Jews need to die,” According to the testimony. Prior to the shooting Bowers posted, shared, liked or shared extremist antisemitic material on Gab, which is a social media site that is popular among those who are on the extreme. There is no regret for his actions, and has told mental health professionals that he perceived himself as being a soldier fighting an ethnic war. He felt proud about the attack and said he would have preferred shooting more individuals.
In their testimony, families of the victims told the loss Bowers removed away from them. “My world has fallen apart,” Sharyn Stein the widow of Dan Stein stated to the jury.
The survivors and others victims of the attack are given another chance to appear before the court as well as Bowers after he has been formalized by the judge.
The synagogue is closed after the incident. Tree of Life Tree of Life congregation is building a synagogue building that could be an enclave with a memorial, museum as well as a center to fight antisemitism.
“It was a challenge to move forward with the looming specter of a murder trial,” declared Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation The Tree of Life Congregation was able to escape the assault. “Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence, it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward.”