Suspected Synagogue Shooter Makes First Court Appearance

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Currents News Staff

Handcuffed and in a wheelchair, the man accused of gunning down members of a synagogue, made his first court appearance in Pittsburgh Monday. The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, was injured in a fire fight with police at The Tree Of Life Synagogue Saturday, and was released from the hospital shortly before appearing in court.

“My office charged Robert Bowers with federal murder and assault charges relative to the horrific acts of violence he committed at the Tree of Life synagogue,” said Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania.

The suspect faces 29 federal charges in the shooting death of 11 people. He was initially represented by public defenders.

“We will have the opportunity to present evidence presenting that Robert Bowers murdered 11 people who were exercising their religious beliefs and that he shot or injured six others, including four of whom were police officers responding to the shooting,” said Brady.

One of the rabbis leading his congregation at the synagogue Saturday morning, recalls the moment he realized he heard gunfire, and how he tried to save as many of his members as he could.

“I quickly tried to usher some up to the front, out some doors in the front towards exits or closet, some place they could hide, some place safe. I turned back to see if I could help the remaining people in the back of my congregation. There was nothing I could do,” said Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life Synagogue.

Despite the hateful act, he insists the synagogue will reopen, stronger than before.

“Tree of Life has been in Pittsburgh for 154 years. We’re not going anywhere. I will not let hate close down my building,” said Myers.