Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: Robert Bowers pleads not guilty, requests jury trial

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What You Need to Know: Alleged Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Robert Bowers

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The man accused of killing 11 people and wounding six others in a shooting Saturday at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh pleaded not guilty Thursday to 44 charges connected to the attack.

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A federal grand jury indicted Robert Bowers, 46, on a slew of charges Wednesday, including hate crimes.

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT Nov. 1: Bowers pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Thursday and requested a jury trial, WPXI reported.

Update 2:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 31: A grand jury has indicted Bowers on 44 counts, including hate crimes, connected with Saturday's deadly shooting.


According to WPXI, the full list of charges against Bowers includes:

  • 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
  • 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.

Bowers is currently being held in Butler County Prison.

Update 6:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 30: President Trump and first lady Melania left the Tree of Life synagogue where a deadly shooting massacre unfolded Saturday and claimed 11 lives and headed to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to visit several shooting survivors, according to WPXI-TV.

The Trumps will meet with four of the wounded law enforcement officers who were injured while apprehending the suspect, CBS News reported.


Update: 5:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 30: President Donald Trump, first lady Melania, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner visited the Tree of Life synagogue Tuesday afternoon where a deadly shooting rampage Saturday killed 11 worshipers and wounded six others, according to WPXI-TV.

The Trumps entered the building but only as far as the vestibule because the synagogue is still a crime scene, CNN reported, where they lit a candle with the rabbis and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.

They’re also expected to place white roses at the stars dedicated to the victims.

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 30: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have arrived in Pittsburgh, WPXI reported.

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 30: Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have  determined that the guns used by Bowers in Saturday's deadly attack at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue were legally purchased and possessed by Bowers.


When he was taken into custody Saturday, Bowers was in possession of three Glock .357 handguns as well as a Colt AR-15 model SP1, WPXI reported.

Update 1:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 30: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will not meet with President Donald Trump when he visits Pittsburgh on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Wolf's campaign spokeswoman, Beth Melena, told the AP that the governor's decision was made after he spoke with the victims' families. She said they told Wolf "they did not want the president to be there on the day their loved ones were being buried."

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT Oct. 30: A spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told WPXI that the mayor does not plan to meet with President Donald Trump during the president's visit to the city Thursday.

“He said the mayor’s attention is solely on the grieving families,” WPXI's Aaron Martin reported.


Peduto had asked Trump to postpone his visit, which was planned in the wake of Saturday’s deadly shooting at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue.

Explore>> On WPXI.com: Mayor asks President Trump to postpone Pittsburgh visit

"If the President is looking to come to Pittsburgh I would ask that he not do so while we are burying the dead,” Peduto said. “I would ask that White House staff contact the families and ask them if they want the President to be here."

Update 4:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 30: Funerals begin Tuesday for the victims of the synagogue shooting as President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are set to visit Pittsburgh.

WPXI is paying tribute to the victims as they are laid to rest and the city prepares for a presidential visit. Click here to watch their coverage here.

Update 10:40 pm EDT Oct. 29: The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center gave an update Monday on four of the victims wounded in the synagogue shooting over the weekend.

A 61-year-old woman is in stable condition, as is a 55-year-old male officer.

Both a 70-year-old man and a 40-year-old male officer remain in critical condition, UPMC officials said on social media.


Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon in the aftermath of the massacre at the synagogue Saturday that left 11 people dead and six wounded.

However, the city's mayor, William Peduto is now asking the White House to postpone the visit over security concerns, according to WPXI-TV.

"We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able at the same time draw attention to a potential presidential visit,” Peduto said Monday in a statement.

“If the President is looking to come to Pittsburgh, I would ask that he not do so while we are burying the dead. I would ask that White House staff contact the families and ask them if they want the President to be here,” he said.

Community leaders are split on the president's expected visit.

The current rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue has said he welcomes the president, but the former leader of the synagogue said she does not welcome him, calling the president a purveyor of hate speech.

"The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren. His daughter is Jewish-American and his son-in-law is the descendant of Holocaust survivors. Tomorrow the president and first lady will travel to Pennsylvania to express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a press briefing Monday.

Update 2:40 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee said Monday that the president and first lady plan to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday, three days after a gunman killed 11 people in a shooting at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue.


Update 2:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: In an emotional statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denounced Saturday's deadly attack at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue, saying that those killed "represented the very best of our nation."

“Antisemitism is a plague to humanity,” she said. “We are a nation that believes in religious liberty, tolerance and respect, and we are a people who cherish the dignity of every human life.”

Update 1:55 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said Monday that Bowers has been ordered detained without bond.

“Rest assured, we have a team of prosecutors to make sure justice is done,” he said minutes after Bowers made his first court appearance.

Bowers is expected to appear in court again Thursday at 10 a.m.

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: Dressed in a blue sweatshirt, Bowers appeared in a federal courtroom in Pittsburgh on Monday for his arraignment.

Bowers was in a wheelchair after sustaining gunshot wounds during Saturday's shooting, WPXI reported. He did not appear to show emotion while speaking with his court-appointed attorney and signing papers, the news station reported.

A judge ordered Bowers be remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals, WPXI reported.

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: Bowers was escorted Monday into a federal courtroom by U.S. Marshals.

Bowers was in a wheelchair after sustaining gunshot wounds during Saturday's shooting, WPXI reported.

Update 1:20 p.m. EDT Oct. 29: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Saturday's shooting "an attack on all people of faith" while addressing a group in Boston on Monday.

Explore>> 'He went back in and finished the job in my synagogue:’ Holocaust survivor speaks of rampage

He called the deadly attack at Tree of Life Synagogue “an attack on America’s value of protecting those of faith.”


On Sunday, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said he had begun the process to get Sessions' approval as required by law to pursue a capital case against Bowers.

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT Oct. 29: Bowers has arrived at a courthouse in Pennsylvania ahead of a hearing expected at 1:30 p.m. Monday, WPXI reported.


Update 10 a.m. EDT Oct. 29: A spokesperson for Allegheny Health Network told WPXI that Bowers was released Monday morning from Allegheny General Hospital.

Bowers is expected to appear in federal court at 1:30 p.m. Monday for his arraignment.

Update 9:20 a.m. EDT Oct. 29: A social media site used by Bowers ahead of Saturday's deadly shooting and popular with far-right extremists has been taken down.

In a message on Gab.com, company officials said it has “been systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.”

Explore>> Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What is Gab, website used by shooting suspect?

Gab.com officials said the company suspended Bowers’ account and contacted law enforcement immediately, turning over his account. The site said Bowers had accounts on other social media platforms.

Bowers is due in court on Monday.

Pennsylvania State Police said troopers will stop at synagogues and other places of worship Monday to make sure everyone is safe.


Update 4:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 29: Federal officials said shooting suspect Robert Bowers, who remains hospitalized, is scheduled to appear before a federal judge at 1:30 p.m. Monday to be arraigned.

Explore>> Pittsburgh’s Humane Animal Rescue to open doors for respite, reflection after Tree of Life shooting

Update 1:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 29: In sympathy for the victims of the synagogue shooting, New York City's Empire State Building went dark Sunday night. An orange halo rolled around its mast to shine a light on gun violence awareness.

Explore>> See the image here

Update 10:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 28: Pittsburgh's U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said he wants to pursue the death penalty against shooting suspect Robert Bowers, but first needs approval from the Department of Justice, according to The Associated Press.


Brady said he has started the process needed to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ approval to bring a capital case against Bowers, the AP reported.

Bowers, a long haul trucker and independent contractor, is scheduled for a court appearance Monday afternoon.

Update 6:20 p.m. EDT Oct. 28: People gathered by the hundreds Sunday at Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum to remember the victims of Saturday's mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue and to show their solidarity for the city's Jewish community.

An overflow crowd of mourners stood in the rain, sharing umbrellas as they listened to the interfaith vigil inside the hall on loud speakers.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto called for tolerance and said that hate and evil needed to be driven back underground.

“There’s an evil that drives mass murder,” Peduto told the crowd. He said it’s especially hard when the victims are children and the elderly.

The victims in Saturday’s rampage were between 54 and 97.


“At this time of grief, coming together as a community offers us some comfort and solace. We hope that being together will strengthen our bonds at this difficult time,”  the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Jeffrey Finkelstein, said about the interfaith gathering.

The Empire State Building in New York is turning off its nights Sunday night in sympathy for the victims.

“Our mast will display an orange halo shining a light on gun violence awareness,” building officials said on Twitter.


Update 3:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 28: Israel's President Reuven Rivlin will deliver a message in a videotaped message set to open an interfaith vigil Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

According to a transcript provided by Rivlin’s office, it will be a message of solidarity.

“You are not alone! The people of Israel and the entire Jewish people stand with you,” the transcript says. “We must say loud and clear — this was an act of antisemitism. We cannot, we must not, we will not ignore it or tolerate it.”

Update 3:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 28: WPXI reported that Timothy Matson is one of the Pittsburgh police SWAT officers who was hurt during the active shooter situation.

Officer Anthony Seretti, Matson's brother and a fellow officer started a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical bills and any other expenses during his recovery. More than $10,000 has been raised toward its $20,000 goal.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said another officer is in stable condition at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. A 27-year-old officer is also in stable condition at UPMC Mercy Hospital. the fourth officer was treated and released from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital on Saturday.

Update 3:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 28: Pittsburgh sports teams held a moment of silence for the victims of the synagogue shooting.

The Vancouver Canucks just held a moment of silence before tonight's matchup," the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins said on Twitter Saturday.

Before the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns NFL game Sunday, the teams had a moment of silence for the victims and families.

Update 10:00 a.m. EDT Oct. 28: The victims of the mass shooting at the synagogue have been identified by authorities, WPXI reported. They are:

Joyce Fienberg, 75

Richard Gottfried, 65

Rose Mallinger, 97

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Cecil Rosenthal, 59

David Rosenthal, 54

Bernice Simon, 84

Sylvan Simon, 87

Daniel Stein, 71

Melvin Wax, 88

Irving Younger, 69

Update 9:00 a.m. EDT Oct. 28: Multiple figures have issued statements on the incident, including Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II and Pope Francis.

"On behalf of the entire Steelers organization, we offer our support and condolences to the families of the attack on peaceful citizens worshiping at the Tree of Life Synagogue," Rooney said in a statement Sunday.

“Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community. With that in mind we will ask everyone to join in a moment of silence and prayer prior to our game this afternoon.”


Of the synagogue attack, Pope Francis said, “We are all hurt by this inhumane act of violence. May the Lord help us extinguish hate, promote respect for life, moral and civic values.”


Update 12:48 a.m. EDT Oct. 28: The criminal complaint from Saturday's deadly shooting includes the following details about the incident:

  • Of the 11 people killed, three were women and eight were men.
  • When SWAT officers entered the synagogue, Bowers went to the third floor of the building, according to the criminal complaint.
  • During an exchange of gunfire there, two SWAT officers were both shot multiple times.
  • While Bowers was being taken into custody, he made comments that he wanted all Jews to die and that they were committing genocide to his people, according to the criminal complaint.

The state is now charging Bowers with the following:

  • 11 counts of criminal homicide
  • Six counts of criminal attempted homicide
  • Six counts of aggravated assault
  • 13 counts of ethnic intimidation

Update 10:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: President Trump has ordered flags flown at half-staff at federal buildings in "solemn respect" for the synagogue shooting victims.

In the proclamation, Trump called for the flags to be lowered until Oct. 31. Earlier in the day he told reporters he would travel to Pittsburgh, but offered no details.

Update 9 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Robert Bowers is charged with 29 federal counts of violence and firearms charges:

  • Eleven counts of Obstruction of Exercise of Religious Beliefs Resulting in Death.
  • Eleven counts of Use of a Firearm to Commit Murder During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence.
  • Four counts of Obstruction of Exercise of Religious Beliefs Resulting in Bodily Injury to a Public Safety Officer.
  • Three counts of Use and Discharge of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence.

Scott W. Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced the charges late Saturday, about 12 hours after they say Robert Bowers opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue.

Update 5:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department intends to file hate crime and other charges against the man accused in the synagogue shooting that killed 11 people, according to The Associated Press.


In a statement Saturday, Sessions said the killings were “reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation.”

Update 4:05 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: Pittsburgh officials confirmed that 11 people were killed and six people were injured during the synagogue shooting. The six injured includes four police officers. Two officers were injured during an initial confrontation with the suspect, and two officers were injured at a later point during the incident, WPXI reported. The suspect suffered gunshot wounds and is in fair condition, officials said.


Update 3:23 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: A photo of suspect Robert Bowers has been released, WPXI reported.


Update 3:22 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: President Trump condemned the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, during remarks at the Future Farmers of America convention, saying there must be no tolerance of anti-Semitism in America.


Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 27: The Associated Press is reporting that at least 10 people were killed in Saturday's synagogue shooting.


Update 2:15 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27: Officials have established a hotline for those looking for information on their loved ones who may have been at the synagogue at the time of the shooting.


Update 1:42 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27: UPMC Presbyterian gave an update on some of the victims.


Update 1:32 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  The Associated Press has identified the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect as Robert Bowers.


Update 1:15 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich confirmed at a news conference that there are multiple fatalities and six injured. The shooter was taken to the hospital. Hissrich said the crime scene was "horrific," and one of the worst he's seen in his career. The scene has been cleared and there is no further threat to the public, Hissrich said.


Update 1:05 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro noted an event that was taking place at the synagogue at the time the shooting happened.


Update 12:45 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  President Donald Trump spoke to the media about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.


Update 12:18 p.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  Police sources have confirmed to WPXI that there were up to 8 people killed in the mass shooting.

Update 11:49 a.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  Governor Tom Wolf has arrived at the scene of the shooting.


Update 11:25 a.m.  EDT Oct. 27:  Police said three officers were shot.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT Oct. 27: Police confirm that the suspect, who was injured during a firefight with police, has surrendered. WPXI reports at least four people are dead.


Update 10:20 a.m. EDT Oct. 27: Initial reports of the shooting came shortly after 10 a.m., and was confirmed by the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department on Twitter. The public was warned to avoid the area.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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