ederal jurors have come to the conclusion that the man responsible for a fatal attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, resulting in 11 deaths and seven injuries, is to be given the death penalty.
This appalling event, which occurred almost half a decade ago, has been marked as the most dreadful antisemitic assault ever witnessed in the United States.
The attacker, identified as Robert Bowers, demonstrated his hatred towards Jews and immigrants on social media platforms, consistently sharing his disdain months prior to the attack. On October 27, 2018, armed with an AR-15 among other firearms, Bowers stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill district, ceasing fire only when he was out of bullets.
The next step is for the jury to present its decision to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Colville. He will then officially declare the death sentence, with the announcement expected on Thursday morning.
Carol Black, who lost her brother Richard Gottfried in the incident, commented on the jury’s decision, emphasizing that such a horrendous act warrants the most extreme punishment.
A unanimous agreement among the jurors was needed for the death penalty to be imposed; otherwise, Bowers would have been sentenced to life without parole.
Although the sentence has been determined, the execution may be delayed for years due to the current moratorium on capital punishment by the Department of Justice.
Executions at the federal level are uncommon, with only 50 instances since 1927. The most recent execution occurred on January 16, 2021, at the U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute in Indiana.
Previously, the same jurors who recommended Bowers’ execution found him guilty of 63 criminal charges related to the massacre, making him eligible for capital punishment.
Throughout the extensive trial, the prosecution focused on Bowers’ antisemitic history to establish his motive, while the defense tried to attribute the killings to mental illness and misguided beliefs, a strategy that was ultimately unsuccessful.
Witnesses, including family members of the victims, took to the stand to share their personal and heartfelt accounts of the traumatic event.
One of the survivors, Martin Gaynor, emphasized the concerning rise in antisemitism, including the spread of hatred through social media and public figures. Gaynor warned against tolerating or promoting antisemitism, as it leads to a destructive path that affects not only the Jewish community but the entire nation.
The victims of this heinous crime were Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Irving Younger, and Melvin Wax, ranging in age from 54 to 97.