On Oct. 27 2018, a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue where Shabbat service were taking place, killing at least 11 people and injuring six, including four police officers.
At around 9:45 a.m., the Pittsburgh Police Department received calls about an active shooter inside of the Tree of Life Congressional in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. It is considered to be a historic Jewish enclave and the center for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh.
The gunman, Robert D. Bowers, was dressed in tactical gear, armed with an assault rifle and three handguns. He walked into the synagogue and yelled, “All Jews must die.”
According to authorities, Bowers exchanged gunfire with officers before retreating back inside and barricading himself in a room on the third floor, where he surrendered.
At a press conference on Saturday, Oct. 27, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendel Hissrich, told reporters there were no children involved, only adults from ages 54 to 97.
“It’s a very horrific crime scene. One of the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some plane crashes," said Hissrich.
On the day of the shooting, FBI special agent Bob Jones said the investigation led to social media accounts that appeared to belong to Bower containing /posts with anti-Semitic messages and hate speech.
Bowers also took to Gab, a social media site dedicated to free speech for alt-right activists and white nationalists whose views are unwelcome or banned on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. There he posted a sign-off to followers:
"HIAS likes bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I'm going in."
President Trump addressed reports at Joint Base Andrews about the shooting, and remarked if there were an armed guard inside the temple the shooter might have been stopped. He suggested “the death penalty would help deter such attacks.”
President Trump later said at the Future Farmers of America Convention in Indianapolis, “This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age.”
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the shooting “reprehensible and utterly repugnant.”
“The Justice Department will file hate crimes and other criminal charges against the defendant, including charges that could lead to the death penalty.” Sessions said.
On Saturday Oct. 27, federal officials charged Bowers with 29 criminal counts, which included obstructing the free exercise of religious belief and using a firearm to commit murder. He will face state charges including 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 courts of ethnic intimidation.
On Sunday Oct. 28, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office released the victims' names:
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, city of Pittsburgh
· Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township
· Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill
· Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough
· Cecil Rosenthal, 59
· David Rosenthal, 54
· Bernice Simon, 84
· Sylvan Simon, 86
· Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill
· Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill
· Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington
Chief medical examiner Karl William said Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal were both brothers from Squirrel Hill. Sylvan Simon and Bernice Simon were a married couple from Wilkinsburg.
On Monday Oct. 29, Bowers appeared in federal court in a wheelchair and handcuffs, where he was ordered held without bail for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 1 2018, when prosecutors will outline their case against him.