An extremist Christian and anti-Semite killed at least 11 people, and injured several others, in a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh earlier today.
The suspect, a 46-year-old local named Robert Bowers, reportedly made several anti-Semitic comments on social media prior to the shooting. He also yelled, “All Jews must die!” as he entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue where he committed his crimes.
The horror unfolded in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of the city. There were close to 100 people inside of the synagogue at the time of the attack. Bowers, a 46-year-old resident of Pittsburgh, was arrested at the scene.
As many as 17 people were shot, including four police officers. The Associated Press reports that the shooting took place during a bris, a baby naming ceremony. Others have said the shooting occurred during Shabbat services at the conservative Jewish synagogue. Of that 17, 11 are reported to have died, according to NBC News, but police have not confirmed the number of dead. The police officers’ injuries are not life-threatening.
An hour before the shooting, Bowers wrote on a social media site, Gab, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” HIAS is the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that helps refugees.
The case is being prosecuted as a hate crime — for good reason. His anti-Semitism may have been fueled by right-wing extremists, but he may have also had some religious motives for the attack.
Bowers was an active poster on an alternative version of Twitter, Gab, which is popular with white supremacists, white nationalists, members of alt-right groups and others who have been kicked off of mainstream social media sites. Bowers went by the moniker One Dingo, @onedingo, on the site. In his bio section, Bowers wrote, “jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) — —- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh.” Shortly after the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation, Bowers’ Gab account was deleted.
Surprisingly, it seems like Bowers is not a supporter of Donald Trump… but only because he felt Trump was too welcoming of Jewish people in his campaign and administration.
In a post a few days before the shooting, Bowers wrote, “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k*** infestation. #Qanon is here to get patriots that were against martial law in the 90’s to be ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp. But go ahead and keep saying you are #Winning.” That same day, Bowers wrote, “amazing amount of division on gab today. glas the overwhelming jew problem has been solved so we can now fight with each other.” In another message, Bowers wrote of Trump, “For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat.”
Bowers may not be an overt Trump supporter, but his social media presence suggests he’s fallen for every racist, conservative conspiracy theory in the book, theories that apparently led him to commit this violent, senseless act. Unless the right-wing extremists with power in the government stop fueling these theories and treating their ideological opponents as traitors, it’s likely these acts of domestic terrorism will only continue.
(Screenshot via CBS News)