Alleged US synagogue shooter pleads not guilty

Aaron Brown
November 2, 2018

The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre faces 44 federal charges - majority death penalty offenses - in the slaying of 11 worshippers during last weekend's Shabbat services, according to a grand jury filing released Wednesday.

The accused gunman, Robert Bowers (46) will be arraigned on a 44-count grand jury indictment that includes 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, one count for each worshiper killed.

The Tree of Life Congregation's rabbi said on Thursday he was "pleasantly surprised" by US President Donald Trump's "personal side" when he visited the Pittsburgh synagogue Wednesday following a vicious shooting there over the weekend.

Officials say Bowers, who is from Florida, called out "All Jews must die", before he fired at the worshippers in Tree of Life.

The attack, believed to be the deadliest against Jews in the United States in recent history, has fueled a fierce political debate about white nationalism and antisemitism ahead of hotly contested U.S. congressional elections next week.

Six people were injured - four of whom were police officers responding to the scene. He made his first court appearance Monday.

Robert Bowers faces a litany of charges, for which Federal prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty.

Mr Bowers confirmed he had read the indictment and understood the charges against him.

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He faces a maximum possible penalty of death, or life without parole, followed by a consecutive sentence of 535 years of imprisonment.

The panel issued the 44-count indictment Wednesday as funerals continued for the 11 people gunned down Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Cecil and David Rosenthal were "beautiful souls" who had "not an ounce of hate in them - something we're terribly missing today", Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, a survivor of the massacre, said at their funeral at Rodef Shalom, one of the city's oldest and largest synagogues.

Funerals for the victims are being held all week.

A couple becomes emotional before leaving flowers at the Tree of Life synagogue two days after the shooting. Despite the hellish tragedy, neither Myers nor any other Jewish leadership tried to forbid Trump from visiting Pittsburgh.

Dr Jane Segal, a dentist who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh a year ahead of Gottfried, said he was a "wonderful man and a wonderful dentist".

About 2,000 people, many of them members Pittsburgh's tight-knit Jewish community, held a protest march against Trump as his visit began, chanting, "Words have meaning", and carrying signs with such slogans as "We build bridges not walls". He added: "For the record, I did not vote for him".

The ADL said in a statement that it believed the massacre was "the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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