Saturday morning, suspected gunman Robert Bowers, 46, invaded the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people before being taken into custody. During his brutal rampage, he allegedly talked about wanting to kill Jewish people and genocide.
His social media history is filled with anti-Semitism and racism. He was deep into conspiracy theories. His accounts have pictures of his guns and shooting targets, posted to Gab.com, a social media site where alt-right wingers and white nationalists frequently gather. Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones are some of the site’s more well-known users, for example.
Bowers posted to his Gab account that he “can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” seemingly in reference to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HAIS), shortly before he attacked the synagogue.
While his account has since been deleted, some people grabbed screenshots of his alleged posts.
In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League says they believe this to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
Officials have identified and released the information for the 11 victims, all elderly adults.
Those killed include: Daniel Stein, 71, Joyce Fienberg, 75, Richard Gottfried, 65, Rose Mallinger, 97, Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, Melvin Wax, 88 and Irving Younger, 69, brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, David Rosenthal, 54, and husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86.
Six others were wounded, including four police officers who responded to the scene.
Bowers faces 29 charges, including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, and multiple counts of two types of hate crime. First, obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, and second, obstruction of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.
Some of these charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
Law enforcement officials said he was armed with three Glock handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle. Bowers shouted about his plan to “kill Jewish people” and fired for about 20 minutes, Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, told reporters on Sunday.
President Donald Trump purported that if an armed guard had been present, the attack might have ended differently, commenting, "If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him.” Soon after, he boarded a flight to go to several events.
He also used the horrific tragedy as a path to talk about the death penalty, saying
, "When people do this, they should get the death penalty. Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church ... they should be suffering the ultimate price, they should pay the ultimate price."
While he sees little connection between revising gun laws and preventing a mass shooting like this one, he thinks
arming places of worship is “certainly an option.”
Later Saturday night, while both family members and the nation grieved, Trump tweeted about the Dodgers:
After running on a platform that encourages hate and division, Trump’s ultimately callous, careless response to yet another hate-driven tragedy is endlessly revealing about his character.