The man accused in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was released from a hospital and turned over to authorities for a court appearance Monday on charges he killed 11 people and wounded six in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, who was shot and wounded in a gun battle with police, was released from Allegheny General Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Waite.
Federal prosecutors set in motion plans to seek the death penalty against Bowers, who authorities say expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and later told police that “I just want to kill Jews” and that “all these Jews need to die.”
The first funeral — for Cecil Rosenthal and his younger brother, David — was set for Tuesday.
Survivors, meanwhile, began offering harrowing accounts of the mass shooting Saturday inside Tree of Life Synagogue.
Barry Werber said he found himself hiding in a dark storage closet as the gunman tore through the building and opened fire.
“I don’t know why he thinks the Jews are responsible for all the ills in the world, but he’s not the first and he won’t be the last,” Werber, 76, said Sunday. “Unfortunately, that’s our burden to bear. It breaks my heart.”
The weekend massacre — which took place less than a week and a half before the midterm elections — heightened tensions around the country, coming just a day after the arrest of the Florida man accused of sending a wave of pipe bombs to critics of President Donald Trump.
The mail bomb attacks and the bloodshed in Pittsburgh set off debate over whether the corrosive political rhetoric in Washington and beyond contributed to the violence and whether Trump himself bears any blame.
The attack spurred a number of fundraising efforts. A crowdfunding campaign called Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue raised more than $90,000 for survivors and families, while a fundraiser led by a graduate student in Washington had taken in nearly $545,000 as of Monday morning, with funds to go to the congregation.
Bowers killed eight men and three women before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him, authorities said.
He apparently posted an anti-Semitic message on a social media account linked to him just a few minutes before the rampage. The Anti-Defamation League called it the deadliest U.S. attack on Jews.
Six people were injured, including four officers.
It wasn’t clear whether Bowers has an attorney to speak on his behalf. A message left with the federal public defender’s office in Pittsburgh wasn’t returned.
All three congregations were conducting Sabbath services when the attack began just before 10 a.m. in the tree-lined residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and the hub of the city’s Jewish community .
Speaking at a vigil in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said about a dozen people had gathered in the main sanctuary when Bowers walked in and began shooting. Seven of his congregants were killed, he said.
“My holy place has been defiled,” he said.
In the basement, four members of New Light were just starting to pray — with two others in the kitchen — when they heard crashing coming from upstairs, looked out the door and saw a body on the staircase, Werber recalled in an interview at his home.
Rabbi Jonathan Perlman closed the door and pushed them into a large supply closet, he said. As gunshots echoed upstairs, Werber called 911 but was afraid to say anything, for fear of making any noise.
When the shots subsided, he said, another congregant, Melvin Wax, opened the door, only to be shot.
“There were three shots, and he falls back into the room where we were,” he said. “The gunman walks in.”
Apparently unable to see Werber and the other congregants in the darkness, Bowers walked back out.
Werber called the gunman “a maniac” and “a person who has no control of his baser instincts.”
The youngest of the 11 dead was 54, the oldest 97. The toll included a husband and wife, professors, dentists and physicians.
Bowers shot his victims with an AR-15, used in many of the nation’s mass shootings, and three handguns, all of which he owned legally and had a license to carry, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bowers was a long-haul trucker who worked for himself, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said Sunday. Little else was known about the suspect, who had no apparent criminal record.
Bowers was charged with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. He was also charged in a 29-count federal criminal complaint that included counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death — a federal hate crime — and using a firearm to commit murder.
Of the six survivors, four remained in the hospital Sunday night, and two — including a 40-year-old officer — were in critical condition.
Gab.com, a social media site popular with far-right extremists, where Bowers had a profile, was offline Monday. Gab wrote it had been “systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors,” including PayPal.
A rabbi who helped alert authorities to the synagogue shooting that killed 11 people says it was because of recent security training that he had a cellphone on him and was able to make the call.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he hadn’t always carried a cellphone on the Sabbath.
But he says a security expert had told him in August that he was living in a new era and needed to carry it.
Myers says that he spent 20 minutes on the phone with authorities and that it “felt like an eternity.”
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Unfortunately, some media players to the far left (such as the fake news network, CNN) blame President Trump and Republicans for laying the groundwork for this horrific massacre. They couldn’t be further from the truth. The Democrats are solely to blame. Consider the fact that the Democratic leadership contains members (Ellison) who are active Farrakhan followers. Farrakhan minces no words, and constantly singles out Jews in his hateful rants. Several New York Democrats who happen to be up for election next week, actively support known anti-Semites, in an effort to appease who they belief are their base. Chief among these chameleons are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (who turned on us and is a real booster of Linda Sarsour and pulled her own name as a co-sponsor of the Israel anti-boycott act) and Gerald Nadler (who actively supported Ellison and who sponsors anti-hate resolutions but doesn’t “walk the walk” and supported the continuance of the Iran Nuclear deal). There are better alternatives whom we can support and vote for.
It would be interesting to see if the congregants of that liberal Conservative “synagogue” will argue against the death penalty for this anti-Semitic killer.
You are filled with as much hate in your heart towards your fellow Yidden, than our enemies. Nebech on you.
Genya is right. Cherrybim, how dare you put synagogue in quotes. Does it make you feel superior? Those who perished while davening from a siddur that differs from yours by 0.01% are kedoshim. I have known many like you, and they all have in common a need to mock those who aren’t tzadikim as they are.
Thank you Genya I echo your statement
Actually, it’s you who are hateful.
I wouldn’t call him a Nazi even-though he Murdered 11 Jews At Pittsburgh Synagogue.
Don’t all jump on me at once!!!!
Please give me a moment to explain… OK? after all he was sent by Hashem.
It’s reported that this terrible tragedy Occurred “During a Bris of Gay Couple’s Twins” (google it and you’ll find it). On top of THAT this so called synagogue is a proud member of “The Union for Reform Judaism” that means that Hashem is not happy with their way of interpreting the holy Torah that WE received on Mount Sinai. In OUR Torah it clearly states that one should not be Gay and they have the Chutzpah to be proud in compromising with the Torah laws? etc.
מקור האיסור מפורש בספר ויקרא: “וְאֶת זָכָר לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא” (ויקרא, י”ח, כ”ב). ועונשם של העבריינים מפורש בהמשך הפסוק “וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת זָכָר מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה עָשׂוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם מוֹת יוּמָתוּ דְּמֵיהֶם בָּם” (ויקרא, כ’, י”ג). משכב זכר בהלכה הוא גילוי עריות, שהוא אחד משלושת האיסורים שחל עליהם דין ייהרג ואל יעבור
[טעמים רבים נאמרו על איסור זה. על פי ספר החינוך: השם ברוך הוא, חפץ בישוב עולמו אשר ברא, ולכן ציוה לבל ישחיתו זרעם במשכבי הזכרים, כי הוא באמת השחתה שאין בדבר תועלת פרי, ולא מצוות עונה, מלבד שענין זה טרוף, נמאס, ומכער הוא מאד, בעיני כל בעל שכל. והאיש שנברא לעבדת בוראו לא ראוי להתנול במעשים מכערים כאלה,] והמביו יבין
To explain my simple point: the murder occurred because Hashem warned us in His Torah that the punishment for this disgusting deed (of being gay) is “שְׁנֵיהֶם מוֹת יוּמָתוּ דְּמֵיהֶם בָּם”… this Murderer was sent to punish them and as a wake up call, so WE can change for the better in Hashems eyes.
Now for the rest of the people who unfortunately did not survive, Chazel teach us
ובמלאך המוות אמרינן בב”ק (ס:) כיוון שניתנה רשות למשחית להשחית אינו מבחין בין צדיק לרשע
So I wouldn’t call him a Nazi even-though he Murdered 11 Jews, because he is simply a messenger from Hashem to wake us up remind us to smell the coffee, understanding that what the Torah writes that the punishment for this low low low act of being gay is to be killed….. One is not allowed to kill people even if they are gay, but once it already happened, looking back we’ll all agree that it’s directly from Hahsem.
His actions are inexcusable!!! Same time I would not justify his cruel actions, because Chazel teach us
“מגלגלים זכות על ידי זכאי ו”חובה על ידי חייב” he is a creep, a nasty individual, a Jew hater, a low life, a murderer, I wish him to have the pleasant experience of sitting on the electric chair in the near future. As far as he is concerned his actions are inexcusable!!!
-In No way shape or form should anyone Chas Ve’Sholom try copying him-
My heart goes out to the families of the victims a million times over!!! May all the families who lost their loved-ones in this massacre have a Nechama, “Nebech on them” and may we all wake up and try improving our daily way of life in the true Torah way so we will be Zocha to greet Moshiach very soon.
Genya is correct, these people are kedoshei elyon. Anyone who tries to be mevazeh them or their memory needs to have their yichus examined according to Chazal.
chesssed you sound like an anti-Semitic Nazi. It is not up to us to decide who deserves to die perhaps the child molesting chassidim should be shot why these gay people? the bottom line is for you to speculate like that makes you a migaleh panim batorah shelo Kehilchisa and Ein Lo Cheilek Biolam Habba enjoy gehenom with bowers !!
Chesssed, it’s probably safe to say you’re not a navi, so let’s leave the running of the world, the why’s and wherefores to the Ribbono shel Olam. Because you’re probably going to have a very difficult time explaining what happened in Har Nof.
I choose to wait for some more “Bashers” before I will proudly respond Bezeras Hashem. Same time I still wouldn’t call him a Nazi even-though he Murdered 11 Jews in cold blood at a Pittsburgh Reform Synagogue, a place of Chilul Shabbos and some Gays etc..
These people were gathering with their Tallis on saying Jewish prayers perhaps with some alteration but ultimately they were gathering in an unpopular place to be on a Saturday morning. They choose this temple over tv or over McDonald’s because of Judaism when it was not the inn thing to do – unlike by us were all members go- some of them decided to go to synagogue and pray even after witnesses the holocaust and some there judge. Remember for any of those who judges and is not Baal Tshuva would you have done more than them if you grew up without parents taking you to orthodox Shul?
And the stupidity about not been nazi because somehow is from God? Everything we get includindg the Holocaust is from God that does not make Hittler any less evil !
Besides only stupid people claim to know why punishments happen in this world. Chessed -You quoting Psukim about dead as if that excuses it at all as if we punish by capital punishment without beis din.. as if if you know that you are any better than anyone. Don’t judge until you are in someone’s shoes.
Chessed the only chessed you can do is staying quiet until you learn compassion.
Even if you were right – which you are not – when abraham heard that G-d would destroy sedom I think he asked for them he did not just seat there judging them.
We JUst don’t know , as it was mentioned you are not a Navii and God didn’t tell you this is why this guy was sent.