Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect charged with additional hate crimes

Federal grand jury adds 19 charges to the 44 already levied against Robert Bowers, who railed online against Jewish groups helping refugees before storming the building, killing 11

The victims of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, October 27, 2018. (Facebook/Google Maps/JTA Collage)
The victims of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, October 27, 2018. (Facebook/Google Maps/JTA Collage)

A man accused of opening fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, killing 11 people and wounding seven others, was indicted Tuesday on additional counts that include allegations of hate crimes.

A federal grand jury added 19 charges to the 44 counts previously levied against Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pennsylvania.

Thirteen of the new counts are hate crime violations and the others accuse him of obstructing religious beliefs and discharging a firearm during crimes of violence.

Messages left for Bowers’ lawyers were not immediately returned.

The indictment said Bowers posted criticism of a Jewish charity on a social media account and linked to a page that said Dor Hadash, one of the three congregations in the synagogue building, hosted refugee-related events.

A woman visits a makeshift memorial outside Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, to the 11 people killed there during worship services, seen here on October 31, 2018. (Gene J. Puskar/ AP)

“You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided,” Bowers posted on Oct. 10, the indictment said.

On the day of the attack, Oct. 27, Bowers again posted that the immigrant aid society “likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going on,” the indictment said.

Bowers was carrying several guns as he approached the Tree of Life synagogue building and shot out a large window on the building’s facade before he entered it, the indictment said.

Driver’s License photo of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect Robert Bowers. (Pennsylvania DOT)

Bowers is accused of shooting to death members of the Dor Hadash, Tree of Life and New Light congregations, which were all conducting Sabbath services when the attack began. He is accused of injuring two other congregants and five officers. Authorities had previously reported four officers were injured.

Survivors described how they hid in a supply closet and other places in the vast building as the gunman searched for more victims. Authorities said he expressed hatred of Jews during the attack and told investigators “all these Jews need to die.”

Bowers’ new charges include 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, two of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill, three congregant victims were added to counts for obstruction of religious beliefs, and three additional firearms charges for those three congregants, federal prosecutors said.

Bowers had previously pleaded not guilty to counts including using a firearm to commit murder and obstruction of religious exercise resulting in death.

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