A Federal Grand Jury on Wednesday returned a forty-four count indictment against alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, forty-six year old Robert Bowers.
The Department of Justice in a statement announced the charges:
- Eleven counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death;
- Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence;
- Two counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury;
- Eleven counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
- Eight counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer; and
- One count of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.
According to the indictment on Oct. 27th, Bowers drove to the Tree of Life Synagogue located in the Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, he then entered the building where members from both Dor Hadash and New Life congregations had gathered to engage in religious worship. The statement says Bowers was armed with “multiple firearms, including Glock .357 handguns a Colt AR-15 rifle.” The indictment alleges that once Bowers entered the building he opened fire, “killing and injuring members of three congregations,” before he then injured “multiple responding public safety officers.” The indictment also explains that “While inside the Tree of Life Synagogue, Bowers made statements indicating his desire to “kill Jews.””
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the Justice statement, “Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society. Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety.”
U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania Scott Brady said in a statement, “Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims’ families, the Jewish community, and our city.”
On Thursday Bowers appeared in court where his public defender Michael Novara offered a not guilty plea, “as is typical,” he said Via CNN.
If convicted, according to the Justice statement, Bowers could face the death penalty or “life without parole, followed by a consecutive sentence of 535 years’ imprisonment.”