Robert Bowers, the man accused of shooting 11 people and wounding several more at a Pittsburgh synagogue, pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial.
Bowers, 46, was placed in front of Judge Robert Mitchell in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and said little, Reuters reported. He told the judge that he understood the charges filed against him and that some could result in his execution.
Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Rose Mallinger, 97; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69, were identified as the 11 victims in the shooting. A pair of brothers and a husband and wife were among those killed.
Six other people, including four police officers, were injured before Bowers was shot by police and surrendered.
“They were just wonderful, graceful people,” Augie Siriano, a custodian at the synagogue, told Reuters of the victims.
Prosecutors have stated they will seek the death penalty against Bowers. After the mass shooting, President Donald Trump, who visited the Tree of Life synagogue and met with its rabbi this week, called to “stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty,” CBS News reported.
“When people do this they should get the death penalty,” the president said. “And they shouldn’t have to wait years and years. … And, I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue.”
Bowers also faces Pennsylvania state charges, including 11 counts of criminal homicide and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. Reuters reported that the federal trial will come first.
Shackled to a wheelchair, he was injured in a shootout with police at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. On social media, Bowers made anti-Semitic statements, saying Jewish people are “the enemy of white people.” Less than an hour before the shooting, Bowers wrote on the website: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Before that, he criticized Trump, saying he’s a “globalist” and isn’t “winning.” He added: “For the record, I did not vote for him.”
The rabbi of the Tree of Life synagogue said on Nov. 1 that he was surprised by the warmth that Trump showed when he, First Lady Melania Trump, and other top members of the White House visited the synagogue on Oct. 30.
“The president was very warm, very consoling. He put his hand on my shoulder and the first question he asked me was, ‘Rabbi, tell me how are you doing?’” Jeffrey Myers told CNN.
“And I must say, throughout the time we spent together, I was pleasantly surprised by a warm and personal side to the president that I don’t think America has ever seen,” he said. “I told my personal story of my experience, which they found quite shocking and upsetting.”
From The Epoch Times