Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooter found guilty on all 63 federal counts

Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27, 2018.
Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27, 2018. | (Screenshot: CBS News)

A jury has found the man charged with killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue in 2018 guilty of all 63 federal charges leveled against him.

In a decision announced Friday, 50-year-old Robert Bowers was found guilty of 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, one count of willfully causing bodily injury due to actual or perceived religion resulting in death and 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder in relation to a violent crime.

The court will reconvene on June 26 for the trial's penalty phase, with Bowers facing the possibility of being sentenced to death or life in prison.

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Bowers pled not guilty to all the charges and has until Sunday to file a mental health defense.

"We welcome the jury's verdict today and believe that justice has been served," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Jewish advocacy group Anti-Defamation League, in a statement

"This attack was the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in American history — but the hate and conspiratorial thinking that fueled this violence has not gone away."

In October 2018, Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood on a Saturday morning, armed with an assault rifle and multiple pistols, and opened fire on the congregation.

Those killed during the mass shooting included Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Irving Younger, 69 and Melvin Wax, 87.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said in a statement that he is "grateful to God for getting us to this day" and is focused on spending time with his congregation on the Sabbath. 

"In the face of the horror our community has experienced, I can think of no better response than practicing my Jewish faith and leading worship," Myers said in a statement. 

"And I am thankful for the law enforcement who ran into danger to rescue me, and the U.S. Attorney who stood up in court to defend my right to pray."

Bowers' posts on social media showed that he held a hatred of Jews, identified as Christian, and supported QAnon but was not a supporter of then-President Donald Trump.

"Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a [slur referring to Jewish people] infestation," Bowers posted.

For his part, Trump, whose daughter converted to Judaism and has Jewish grandchildren, took to his Twitter account in 2018 to denounce the mass shooting.

"All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries," tweeted Trump at the time.

"This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate."

President Joe Biden has also condemned the attack in statements commemorating anniversaries of the Tree of Life shooting. 

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