Gunman who killed 11 people in US synagogue attack found guilty on 63 charges

16 June 2023, 17:34 | Updated: 16 June 2023, 22:49

Robert Bowers, 50, has been found guilty of murder after he shot 11 people at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October 2018
Robert Bowers, 50, has been found guilty of murder after he shot 11 people at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October 2018. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

A man who shot 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 has been found guilty on all 63 federal charges in what has been described as the worst attack on Jews in US history.

Robert Bowers, 50, has been found guilty of murder after he shot 11 people at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October 2018.

Bowers, a truck driver, was convicted of 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs causing death, 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, 11 counts of hate crime resulting in death and more.

His convictions mean he will now move onto a separate penalty phase where the jury will listen to additional evidence to determine whether to issue the death penalty.

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The penalty phase is expected to last several weeks before a verdict is reached.

The defendant’s own lawyers reportedly admitted in the trial’s early stages that Bowers had attacked and killed worshippers.

Bowers’ lawyers had pushed for a guilty plea in exchange for a life sentence but the offer was refused by prosecutors who wanted to go ahead with an additional penalty trial in pursuit of the death penalty.

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Robert Bowers, 50, could face the death penalty.
Robert Bowers, 50, could face the death penalty. Picture: Alamy

It was reported that the pursuit of this decision was supported by a majority of the victims’ families.

Courts heard during the trial that Bowers turned the synagogue into a “hunting ground” as he deliberately targeted victims because of their religion.

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He killed 11 but also shot and wounded seven, which included five police officers who were responding to the incident.

It emerged in the trial that Bowers had expressed an overtly antisemitic attitude online, as he had often shared or liked content propagating such views, including content related to the Holocaust.

His lawyers are reportedly planning to present evidence at the separate trial to show that he suffers from schizophrenia, epilepsy and brain impairments.

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