The man charged with shooting 11 Jews to death at a Pittsburgh congregation, marking the deadliest ever attack on America’s Jewish community, was due to make his first court appearance on Monday before a federal judge.
Robert Bowers, 46, who has a history of posting anti-Semitic material online, has been charged with 29 criminal counts, including the violation of U.S. civil rights laws in what federal prosecutors say was a hate crime.
Several of the charges can be punishable by the death penalty.
Bowers is accused of storming into the Tree of Life congregation in Squirrel Hill, the heart of Pittsburgh’s close-knit Jewish community, yelling “All Jews must die” as he opened fire on members of three congregations holding services there.
In addition to the 11 mostly elderly members who were killed, six people, including four police officers who confronted the gunman, were wounded before the suspect surrendered. Two of the surviving victims remained hospitalized in critical condition.
“The fact that this attack took place during a worship service makes it even more heinous,” U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said on Sunday at a news conference.
Bowers’ initial appearance before a judge was scheduled for Monday afternoon in District Court in Pittsburgh, Brady said.
The dead included two brothers in their 50s, David and Cecil Rosenthal; a married couple in their 80s, Sylvan and Bernice Simon; and 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, the oldest of the victims.
Another was Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, a family physician who initially escaped the attack only to be killed when he returned to render aid to the wounded, according to a Wall Street Journal op-ed column by Pittsburgh carpet salesman Lou Weiss, who knew five of the victims personally.
The killings rocked the Squirrel Hill community, an enclave that encompasses several synagogues and Jewish religious schools, and sparked security alerts at places of worship across the country.