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Alleged synagogue shooter Robert Bowers indicted on 44 federal charges

November 23, 2018

A federal grand jury Wednesday handed down a 44-count indictment against Robert Bowers, the man accused of opening fire inside a Squirrel Hill synagogue and killing 11.

The indictment charges Bowers with federal hate crimes, including 11 murders.

Bowers will be arraigned on the charges in the indictment Thursday at the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh’s Downtown.

“Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims’ families, the Jewish community, and our city,” U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement. “Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims.”

The indictment asks for Bowers to forfeit a Colt AR-15 rifle and three Glock .357 handguns believed to be used in the shooting. It also seeks a shotgun recovered from Bowers car parked outside the Tree of Life Congregation.

This week, federal officials said Bowers owned 10 guns, including the four he is believed to have used in the shooting.

A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initially said Bowers bought and owned the guns legally but the ATF later said that had yet to be determined.

In the hours after the attack, ATF investigators searched Bowers’ car and Baldwin home and said they found the six additional guns, according to ATF spokeswoman Charlene Hennessy. In addition to the shotgun found in Bowers’ car parked outside the synagogue, three handguns and two rifles were found at his McAnulty Acres apartment, she said.

The grand jury alleged in its indictment that Bowers went into Tree of Life on Saturday during services for three congregations. Bowers indicated he wanted to “kill Jews” while inside the synagogue, according to the indictment.

Bowers was taken into custody Saturday after exchanging fire with police officers inside the synagogue. He was treated for gunshot wounds at Allegheny General Hospital and released to the U.S. Marshals on Monday. Bowers is currently at the Butler County Prison where he is being held without bail.

The indictment filed Wednesday charges Bowers with:

• 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death;

• 11 counts of use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence;

• Two counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury;

• 11 counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;

• Eight counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer; and

• One count of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

Bowers was previously charged with 29 counts related to the shooting. The indictment filed Wednesday charges additional crimes and names additional victims.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the alleged crimes “incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation,” according to a statement. He said the case is important not only to the victims and their friends and family but to Pittsburgh and the nation.

“Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society,” Sessions said in a statement. “Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety.”

Bowers faces the death sentence or life without parole if convicted.

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