Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What we know about alleged mass shooter Robert Bowers


The man who allegedly opened fire on worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in what is likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history acted alone, authorities said.

Eleven people were killed and six more were injured, including four police officers, when authorities say the suspect opened fire at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. An assault rifle and three handguns were found on the suspect, Bob Jones, FBI Pittsburgh special agent in charge, said during a press conference Saturday afternoon.

The suspect has been identified Robert Bowers, who is 46 years old. Bowers has several firearms and hunting licenses registered in his name and has addresses in the Pittsburgh area.

“This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve ever seen,” Jones said.

Twenty-nine federal charges were filed against Bowers late Saturday, including several hate crimes. He is facing 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious belief resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

“On Saturday, October 27, 2018, at 8:05 p.m., U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell signed a criminal complaint charging Robert Bowers of Baldwin, Pa., with 29 counts setting forth federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses,” the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes. The FBI in Pittsburgh is leading the investigation.”

The four counts of bodily injury to a public safety officer stem from the police officers injured in the shooting.

Bowers was also charged with 35 state offenses, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of criminal attempted homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.

“The suspect’s full motive is unknown but we believe he was acting alone,” Jones added.

By Saturday evening, residents of the Pittsburgh apartment building where Bowers appeared to be living most recently — who had been evacuated earlier in the day — were allowed back into their apartments.

Neighbors who live in the complex described the suspect to ABC News as a quiet loner who lived alone and didn’t stick out as any sort of danger.

“The most terrifying thing is how normal he seemed,” remarked neighbor Chris Hall.

Hall said he wished there had been “some type of warning sign.”

“I wish there was something tattooed on him or something that said ‘hey, this is what’s going on in my head.’”

The Anti-Defamation League condemned the attack in a statement, saying it was “unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning.”

“This is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” the ADL said in a statement.

The suspect is in fair condition with multiple gunshot wounds at a local hospital after being taken into custody, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters during the press conference Saturday afternoon.

At 9:54 a.m. Saturday, police received reports of an active shooter at Tree of Life, where a service was taking place, Hissrich said. The congregants were attending a baby-naming ceremony in the synagogue, Pennsylvania‘s state attorney general told the Associated Press.

There was also a morning Shabbat service scheduled from 9:45 a.m. to noon, according to the synagogue’s website.

After entering the church, Bowers allegedly killed at least 11 people, Jones said, and exchanged fire with officers, some of whom were injured. Bowers was also shot.

He was taken into custody and brought to the hospital, Hissrich said.

Bowers had not been charged as of Saturday afternoon.

Law enforcement is looking closely at a social media account believed to be linked to the suspect. A counterterrorism official briefed on the probe says they are looking at Bowers’ social media profiles, looking at what he allegedly posted and his conversations.

Since the incident happened at a synagogue, it is being treated as a federal hate crime and will be handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with the assistance of local, county and state police, he added.

Upon arriving in Indiana for a speech before the Future Farmers of America, President Donald Trump called the attack an “anti-Semitic crime.”

“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and frankly something that is unimaginable,” Trump said at the start of the event. “Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief. This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age but we don’t seem to learn from the past.”

“The vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned anywhere and everywhere it appears,” he added.

Speaking to reporters before boarding his flight to Indiana earlier in the day, Trump called the suspected shooter “a wacko” and a “maniac.” He also said the suspect should “pay the ultimate price” and be subjected to the death penalty.

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