Local media reported that a man was convicted Friday in the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers at a synagogue five years ago, in what is considered the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history. Robert Bowers was found guilty of all 63 federal charges filed against him, including hate crimes resulting in death, according to CNN and ABC, among other media outlets.
The 50-year-old was convicted of opening fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27, 2018. Now, a jury must decide whether Bowers will be sentenced to the death penalty for the attack.
Prosecutors argued that Bowers carried out the attack in a methodical manner, tracking the synagogue victims and shooting them multiple times and from close range. During the incident, the defendant reportedly shouted “All Jews must die!,” raising concerns about the resurgence of right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis in the United States.
The incident occurred during Shabbat services, the Jewish holy day of rest. Bowers entered the synagogue armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and three Glock pistols and was arrested at the scene after the attack. Several people were killed, including members of three congregations, and several worshippers and police officers were injured.
Bowers had expressed strong anti-Semitic statements online prior to the attack. Then-President Donald Trump urged that Bowers be sentenced to death, a request that federal prosecutors formalized in August 2019. However, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden has not carried out federal executions since taking office in January 2021.
Bowers’ defense team has argued that he suffers from schizophrenia and offered to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison, a proposal that was rejected by the prosecution.
The Anti-Defamation League, a US-based Jewish organization, recorded 3,697 acts of harassment, vandalism, and assault in 2022, a 36% increase from the previous year and the highest number since they began keeping records in 1979.
According to a Pew Research Center study released in May 2021, approximately six million Jews reside in the United States.