Deadly Massacre Sparked by ‘Malice and Hate’ for Jews

( – Today, prosecutors presented a disturbing and violent attack in which a heavily armed man stormed a synagogue in Pittsburgh, targeting and shooting every worshipper he could find. The massacre stands as the most deadly antisemitic attack in American history.

The federal trial of Robert Bowers that began today got underway more than four years after the tragic deaths of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue.

After interviewing more than 200 potential jurors over a month, a jury consisting of 12 jurors and six alternates was selected.

During her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song painted a chilling picture of the defendant’s animosity and hatred. According to her, “The depths of the defendant’s malice and hate can only be proven in the broken bodies” of the victims and “his hateful words.”

Some survivors wiped away tears as they listened to the proceedings, while Bowers, seated at the defense table, remained emotionless.

Bowers, aged 50, could potentially face the death penalty if he is found guilty of some of the 63 charges he’s facing for the October 27, 2018, attack.

The horrific event claimed the lives of worshippers from three congregations sharing the synagogue: Dor Hadash, New Light, and Tree of Life. Charges against Bowers include 11 counts each of obstructing the free exercise of religion leading to death, and hate crimes resulting in death.

Members of the three congregations arrived together at the courthouse on a school bus. The prosecution claims Bowers spewed antisemitic comments at the crime scene and online.

Throughout the jury selection and preliminary hearings, the defense did not seem to question Bowers’ role as the shooter. Instead, they appeared to be more concerned with preventing his possible execution. Bowers, a truck driver from a Pittsburgh suburb, offered to plead guilty if he could avoid the death penalty, but federal prosecutors refused. Bowers’ legal team also recently revealed that he has schizophrenia and brain impairments.

The prosecution will likely present incriminating statements allegedly made by Bowers to investigators, an online trail of antisemitic comments showing his religious hatred, and the weapons found with him at the crime scene. Prosecutors may introduce autopsy records and 911 call recordings during the trial, including calls from two victims who were later shot to death. Evidence includes an AR-15 rifle, three Glock .357 handguns, and hundreds of bullet casings and fragments.

Bowers also injured seven individuals, including five police officers who arrived on the scene, according to investigators.

Earlier this year, prosecutors argued that Bowers held a deep, murderous hatred towards Jewish people and also expressed hatred for HIAS, a non-profit organization that aids refugees and asylum seekers.

In a court document, prosecutors noted that Bowers had nearly 400 followers on his Gab social media account, where he propagated his antisemitic views and incited violence against Jews.

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