The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Justice Served to Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter

Photo Credit: (MGN Online)

A jury has ruled that the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooter will face the death penalty for the shooting at a Jewish synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Robert Bowers, a former truck driver, committed the attack on October 27, 2018, which resulted in the deaths of 11 worshippers. He was found guilty of 63 criminal counts in June, which included 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death and hate crimes resulting in death.

Bowers espoused antisemitic beliefs and hatred of immigrants before methodically planning and perpetrating the massacre. The prosecution said he shouted, “All Jews Must Die,” as he opened fire.

Bowers’ defense attorneys argued that he was too delusional to be sentenced to death. They pointed to a difficult childhood, the divorce of his parents, and the suicide of his father as contributing factors to his delusion.

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The prosecution stated that mental illness had nothing to do with it, saying Bowers knew exactly what he was doing when he committed the attack and cited the vulnerability of the many elderly people he killed and his hate-based targeting of a religious group.

The verdict came after a prolonged trial in which jurors heard in gruesome detail how Bowers reloaded at least twice, stepped over his dead victims to look for more people to kill, and only surrendered when he expended his ammunition. The killer has shown no remorse for the massacre in conversations with psychiatrists. He has bragged about the shooting and wished he was able to shoot more people.

Survivors and victims’ families gave emotional testimony over the course of the trial. Sharyn Stein, the widow of Daniel Stein, who was killed in the shooting, testified, “My world has fallen apart.”

Jeffrey Finkelstein, who is president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said, “This was an act of antisemitism, not an issue of mental illness.”

Prosecutors named each of the 11 people killed and displayed photographs of them while arguing for the death penalty. The victims were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84, and her husband, Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 87; and Irving Younger, 69.

A statement from the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon says, “It is with great appreciation and respect that the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon wholeheartedly express our extreme gratitude to the entire jury for their service during this very long and arduous trial. In the course of performing their civic duty, they unselfishly endured great personal sacrifice: time away from family, friends, and work, as well as being disconnected from everyday activities. They patiently and very inventively listened to all of the testimony and scrutinized the voluminous amount of evidence presented throughout the entire trial. We fully respect their verdict and decisions.”

Survivors and others affected by the tragedy will have another opportunity to address the court and the shooter when the judge formally sentences him.

The synagogue has been closed since the shooting. The Tree of Life congregation is working on remodeling the synagogue complex that would house a sanctuary, museum, memorial, and center for fighting antisemitism.

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