The Latest: Feds to seek death penalty in synagogue shooting

The Latest: Feds to seek death penalty in synagogue shooting

PITTSBURGH (AP) —  U.S. Attorney Scott Brady says federal prosecutors are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty against Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers.

Brady says he has begun the process to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ approval as required by law to pursue a capital case against Bowers.

Brady says multiple search warrants have been issued in the investigation of Bowers, a long-haul trucker who worked as an independent contractor.

Police responding to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue wounded Bowers and arrested him. Bowers is scheduled to appear in court early Monday afternoon for a hearing.

At least 2,000 mourners packed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh and thousands more stood outside at a vigil for the 11 who were killed during Sabbath services at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said he began services at 9:45, and the shooting started a few minutes later.
He said there were 12 in the sanctuary at the time, most sitting in the back.

Myers said: “I helped pull out the people that I could from the front. But, alas, I had eight people in the back. One fortunately survived.”

Myers said: “I’m a survivor. I’m a mourner.”

He added: “Seven of my congregants were shot dead in my sanctuary. My holy place has been defiled.”

The rabbi of the New Light Congregation who is credited with shepherding some of the congregants behind a door and saving their lives during Saturday’s shooting spoke at a vigil in Pittsburgh Sunday night. Rabbi Jonathan Perlman’s voice cracked with emotion as he spoke of losing three pillars of the community who, he said, “would give you the shirt off their back.” He said they volunteered not only at the synagogue but in the community at large.

Said Perlman: “What happened yesterday will not break us. We will continue to thrive and sing and worship and learn together.”

He added: “We will not be ruined by this event.”

Israel’s president is sending a message of solidarity after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, saying Israel stands with the Jewish victims and the Pittsburgh community.

In a videotaped message set to open an interfaith vigil Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin will tell participants: “You are not alone! The people of Israel and the entire Jewish people stand with you!” That’s according to a transcript of the message provided by his office.

“We must say loud and clear — this was an act of anti-semitism,” Rivlin says, according to the transcript. “We cannot, we must not, we will not ignore it or tolerate it.”

Rivlin, who acts in a mostly ceremonial capacity, will conclude his message of consolation by reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns  observed a moment of silence at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for the 11 people killed by a gunman inside a synagogue in the city Saturday.

There were other such tributes at NFL games elsewhere Sunday.

Eight men and three women were murdered inside the Tree of Life Synagogue. The names of the victims, which included a pair of brothers and a married couple, were released Sunday.

In a statement issued before Sunday’s game, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said, “Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the slayings the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.”

A law enforcement official says the man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue had a license to carry firearms and legally owned his guns.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke Sunday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Police say Robert Bowers killed eight men and three women in the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him.

The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 and included brothers and a husband and wife.
Court papers say Bowers made statements about genocide and killing Jewish people.

Federal prosecutors have charged Bowers with 29 criminal offenses and state authorities have also leveled charges.

Bowers is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday.
12:30 a.m.
A gunman who expressed hatred of Jews exploited a vulnerability common in so many houses of worship across the country — doors that are unlocked for worship — to target a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Officials say Robert Bowers was armed with a rifle and three handguns when he walked inside the Tree of Life synagogue during Sabbath services Saturday morning and opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding six in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Police swarmed the building and traded gunfire with the gunman, who was shot multiple times but survived.

Four police officers are among the wounded.

Bowers faces 29 federal counts, including weapons offenses and hate crimes.