Prosecutors will 'work to make sure justice is served' after synagogue massacre

Prosecutors will 'work to make sure justice is served' after Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

PITTSBURGH — Robert Bowers, 46, appeared in court Monday after officials said he stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people and injuring six others.

Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno sat inside the courtroom as Bowers made his first appearance before a federal magistrate.

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Bowers was in a wheelchair. He leaned forward as a judge addressed him and appointed an attorney.

The only words Bowers uttered were “Yes” and “Yes, Sir.”

In a news conference following Monday’s court hearing, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said Bowers committed horrific acts of violence, and his office looks forward to bringing its case to court.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims’ families and the community, and rest assured, we have a team of prosecutors who will work to make sure justice is done,” Brady said.

According to officials, a total of 29 charges, two of which are federal hate crime charges, have been filed against Bowers.

Federal prosecutors announced Sunday night they will be pushing for this to be a death penalty case.

According to court documents, the suspect told authorities after the shooting, he wanted "all Jews to die."

The six injured include four police officers.

Officials released the names of the 11 individuals killed in what Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the "darkest day of Pittsburgh's history" during a news conference Sunday morning.

Channel 9 learned the victims range in age from 54 to 97. Among the deceased are two brothers and a husband and wife.

The victims have been identified as the following:

  1. Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

  2. Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

  3. Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill

  4. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood

  5. Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill (brother of David Rosenthal)

  6. David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill (brother of Cecil Rosenthal)

  7. Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg (married to Sylvan Simon)

  8. Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg (married to Bernice Simon)

  9. Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

  10. Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill

  11. Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington

Police said Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday morning, killing 11 people and injuring six.

According to officials, Bowers surrendered after a firefight with police and was taken into custody.

Much of what Channel 9 knows about Bowers so far has come from disturbing social media posts.

He actively used Gab, a site popular with white nationalists and posts on his page show a clear hatred toward Jewish people.

Bowers used several racial slurs in his posts and one comment included "Jews are the children of Satan."

If convicted, Bowers could face the death penalty for his crimes.

The shooting was felt around the world, from the United States to Israel.

"We know that hatred will never win out, that those that try to divide us because of the way that we pray or where our families are from around the world will lose," said Peduto.

Thousands of people of all faiths gathered Sunday evening for a prayer vigil in honor of the lives lost.

While many of the people at the vigil did not know the victims personally, they said they felt a deep connection after this act of terror.

A group of therapy dogs was on hand to lift people's spirits before the vigil Sunday evening.

Flowers were placed at just about every blocked off street near the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Many people are looking for a way to heal after an unthinkable act of violence.

"I just want to show my solidarity with everybody, not just Jews but people of all faiths and cultures," resident Dave Wexler said.

"I think in this day and age it is difficult to go through this cycle of violence, but it is really important to stand together whenever it happens in your own backyard," resident Molly Watterson said.

The Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Dani Dayan came in to assist with counseling.

"I couldn't go to take a rest before I paid my respects to the murder in the synagogue," Dayan said. "An anti-semetic event that happens thousands of miles from our shores is for us local news, it is a domestic issue."

Dayan said the prime minister sends his deepest condolences.

Channel 9 spoke to a man who had his bar mitzvah at the Tree of Life synagogue, and he said his response will not be with violence, but instead at the ballot box.

"It's a horrible tragedy, and it's just sort of hard to understand how we can permit these mass shootings to happen over and over again," said resident Jim Busis.

Pittsburgh is home to about 50,000 Jews, and community leaders estimate about 60 percent of them live near Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood where the shooting took place.

Memorials continue to grow in front of the synagogue as people stop by to say a quick prayer and show their support for the Jewish community after this tragedy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a message saying, "We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh," and President Donald Trump called it "an assault on humanity."

On Saturday night, hundreds packed a Pittsburgh church for an interfaith service with people from different backgrounds and different beliefs.

Outside of the church, thousands packed an intersection for a vigil, lighting candles in memory of the victims.

A former rabbi at the synagogue called the shooting "a crime against humanity."

"But, it is against humanity and what is good in humanity, and I think that I'm tired of throwing up my hands when things like this happen and saying, 'What can we do?'" Rabbi Chuck Diamond said.

Bowers is due in court again Thursday. He is being held without bond.

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