The names of 11people, all worshippers from Pittsburgh’s Tree Of Life synagogue killed by a heavily-armed gunman, were released to the public during a press conference with federal and city officials early Sunday morning. Their ages ranged from 59 to 97.
“This was an attack on our neighbors and friends,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady of the massacre Saturday morning.
It fell to Allegheny County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams to release the names of the gunman’s victims. They included: Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gotfried, 65; Rose Malinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59 and his brother, David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84 and her husband, Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and, Irving Younger, 69.
The gunman in this case has been identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers. According to reports, Bowers was a committed anti-Semite in the neo-Nazi mold who expressed his hatred for Jews across social media, on which he trafficked in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, including various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, laundered by Fox News over the past few weeks, about a migrant caravan currently making its way through Central America, supposedly bankrolled by Jews for political purposes. It has also been reported that Bowers “strongly disliked [President Donald] Trump because he thought Trump was too soft on Jews.”
On Sunday morning, officials offered further details on Bowers. The U.S. Attorney’s office has filed federal charges against Bowers, who is currently in custody. According to Brady, Bowers was armed with “multiple weapons,” including “three Glock .357 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle.”
He has been charged with 29 federal crimes, including 11 counts of murdering victims who were exercising their religious beliefs and 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder. Each of these counts carries the possibility of the death penalty.
In addition, Bowers has been charged with various crimes committed during his standoff with police, in which four police officers were wounded — three by Bowers. “By confronting and neutralizing Bowers, they prevented additional loss of life,” said Brady.
During his assault, said Brady, Bowers “made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people.”
Bowers has been taken into federal custody, though he currently remains at a local hospital. “At this point,” said FBI special agent Robert Jones, “we have nothing to indicate that Bowers may have had accomplices, but again, we are in the early stages of this investigation.” Brady says that the matter is “being treated as a hate crime and we’re charging it as such.”
At this morning’s press conference, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called for renewed action around getting deadly firearms out of the hands of people who would harm communities in similar fashion. “We’re dealing with irrational behavior. There is no way that you can rationalize a person walking into a synagogue during services and taking the lives of 11 people,” said Peduto.
PEDUTO: We shouldn’t be trying to find ways to minimize the dangers that occur from irrational behavior. We should be working to eliminate irrational behavior and the empowerment of people who would seek to cause this type of carnage from continuing. I think the approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those that are looking to express hatred through murder.”
Peduto saluted first responders for their work during the city’s “darkest time” and praised the Jewish community of Pittsburgh as part of the “fabric of Pittsburgh” and pledged his support to fight hatred at home and abroad.
PEDUTO: Pittsburgh is a strong town, and we are a resilient city. We have been knocked down, and we have found ways to stand back up. We’ve always done it in one way, by working together. To the victims’ families, to the victims’ friends, we are here as a community of one, for you. We will be here to help you through this horrific episode. We will get through this darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history by working together.
To those who are not familiar with Pittsburgh, to those who have given their words of not only confidence but support to Pittsburgh from around the world, around this nation, and around this state, thank you. We know that we as a society are better than this. We know that hatred will never win out, that those who try to divide us because of the way that we pray or where our families are from around the world will lose.
In Pittsburgh, we’re pragmatic. We find solutions to problems. We will not try to rationalize irrational behavior. We will not try to figure out ways to lessen the degree of crimes such as this. We will work to eradicate it…from our city, our nation, and our world. Hatred will not have a place anywhere.
Later in the morning, on Meet The Press, Peduto emphasized his membership in the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns and stressed, “I don’t think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards.”
This is a breaking news story which will be updated.