Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter

Prosecutors working for the Justice Department filed for the death penalty for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter on Aug. 26.

Robert Bowers allegedly shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.


The filing shows that Bowers was charged with obstructing freedom of religious belief that resulted in death—a hate crime punishable by death, CBS reported.

Bowers’ defense attorney Judy Clarke tried to get her client a plea bargain that would allow him to exchange a guilty plea for life imprisonment.

The 46-year-old allegedly killed Jewish worshipers with an AR-15 rifle and several handguns while shouting anti-Semitic slurs at the Tree of Life synagogue, Fox News reported.

Five police officers and two others were injured during the incident.

Nearly two weeks after the incident, their lives were remembered with a moment of silence and rally for peace in a downtown park on Nov. 9, 2018.

Rabbi Asks for No Death Penalty

A rabbi from the New Light Congregation, one of three Pittsburgh synagogues that were attacked on October 2018, has written to Attorney General William Barr. He asked for the accused gunman to be “incarcerated for the rest of his life without parole.”

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman said that three men were fatally shot at his synagogue and everyone in his synagogue, including himself, were victims of the attack. He pleaded with Barr to implement life imprisonment instead of a death penalty.

“We have been in a sea of tears and sorrow since that fateful Sabbath morning,” Perlman wrote. “We wake up in the morning and head into the unexplained and the unknowable.”

Perlman appealed to religious traditions as a reason not to implement the death penalty.

“Both our religious traditions, your Catholic and mine Jewish, vigorously oppose the death penalty,” Perlman wrote.

“Although the Bible mentions Lex Talionus and says that one who violates Sabbath law, disrespects his parents, and, yes, murders another ‘shall surely die,’ our holy Talmud generations later says that ‘the Sanhedrin (Jewish court) that puts a man to death once in seven years is called a ‘bloodthirsty’ court. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah added, ‘Or even once in 70 years’ (Makkot 7:1).”

He added: “I know you are a committed Catholic and you will not let history remember you this way. You will let your cherished Christian values be considered in your verdict.”

The New Light Congregation rabbi said he didn’t want the alleged shooter to receive more media attention.

“A drawn-out and difficult death penalty trial would be a disaster with witnesses and attorneys dredging up horrifying drama and giving this killer the media attention he does not deserve,” Perlman wrote.

He then ended his letter with a reason why Barr shouldn’t create a situation that would cause people to be “guilty of bloodshed.”
“Perhaps the rabbis were right,” he wrote. “We are told elsewhere that ‘a gossip’ or one who is careless with words causing ‘blood to rush to the face of another’ by humiliating him or upsetting him is someone ‘guilty of bloodshed.'”

“Please be compassionate with our community as our Holy God is compassionate with all who dwell on earth.”