Robert Bowers, 46, the man accused of killing 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was brought into a federal court on Monday. Witnesses said that he yelled “All Jews must die” before opening fire. Bowers was armed with an assault rifle and three handguns when police arrested him.
Bowers who is facing 29 felony counts including 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder and 11 counts of obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. Bowers is also facing 11 state charges, including attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Interestingly, despite the motivation to target a specific demographic and religious group, Bowers incident was not considered an act of terrorism. His was obviously a hate crime targeting Jews who are often in the crosshairs of Muslim-extremist groups.
Yet, the charges levied upon Bowers, an American, was categorized as a federal offence.
Expressionless Bowers entered the court on a wheelchair wearing a blue sweatshirt. He requested to have a counsel appointed for him, to which U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell agreed.
U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said that a preliminary hearing was set on Thursday and Bowers is currently held without bond.
On Sunday, the U.S attorney’s office announced that Federal prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who would have to sign off on pursuing a capital case, predicted Monday that Bowers “could be subjected to the death penalty.”
At a White House briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, said that President Donald Trump will visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday and defended the President against critics who claimed that he hasn’t done enough to denounce white nationalism.
Sanders said, “He’s denounced racism, hatred and bigotry in all forms on a number of occasions. He will continue to do that. I’m doing it here today.”
Lynette Lederman, a former president of Tree of Life, was vocal in her objection to the President’s visit to Pittsburgh. During an interview, Lederman referred to President Trump as a “purveyor of hate speech.”
Interestingly, Bowers is not a Trump supporter. According to investigators, Bowers disliked President Trump for not hating Jews. In a post on the social media network Gab, Bowers said:
“Trump is not a nationalist. He is a globalist. There is no #MAGA if there is kike infestation.”
Bowers was also highly-critical of President Trump for not showing stronger support for the white supremacist groups that staged the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and also the Proud Boys.
It is easy to associate the President with crimes committed by the alt-Right when it appears that not all members of the faction agree with President Trump’s decisions.