Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect Could Face Death Penalty over Hate Crimes

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Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting
Photo credits: AP/Matt Rourke

The suspect in the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh is facing 44 federal charges, most are punishable by death.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted the synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers with federal hate crimes including:

  • Eleven counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death;
  • Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence;
  • Two counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury;
  • Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
  • Eight counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer; and
  • One count of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

According to the indictment, Bowers went to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh with an intention to kill Jews. Bowers entered the building armed with multiple firearms including Glock .357 handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle. He opened fire inside the synagogue and killed 11 worshippers and injured six others including law enforcement officers. During the course of his deadly shooting, Bowers stated, “They’re committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews.”

Bowers is facing a maximum possible penalty of death or life without parole, followed by a consecutive sentence of 535 years in prison.

Sessions calls synagogue shooting “incomprehensibly evil”

In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society. Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety.”

Additionally, Sessions called Bowers’ action “incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation.” He emphasized that they are “resolutely determined to achieve justice in this case.”

Furthermore, he reiterated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will “bring the force of the law against anyone who would violate the civil rights of the American people.”