Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white man, has been identified as the suspect in a shooting that took place at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 people.
The suspect reportedly entered the Tree of Life Synagogue on the corner of Wilkins and Shady avenues on Saturday and opened fire on a service. Pittsburgh authorities tweeted at approximately 10:30 a.m. EST that they were responding to an active shooter situation in the area.
The gunman was eventually detained by police and taken to hospital for further medical care.
Responding officers “received fire” from the suspect upon arriving at the scene. Four of those injured in the shooting were law enforcement — two first responders and two SWAT officers. In total, six people have been injured, not including the suspect. Two of the injured are listed in critical condition.
According to officials, the suspect was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle. He also had at least three pistols and had barricaded himself in a room at the synagogue before being detained by police, reports indicate.
Upon surrender, he made several anti-Semitic remarks, several local media outlets reported. He was injured in the ribs and was transferred to hospital after being detained by police. While he was in emergency surgery, NBC reported that he had been moved to intensive care.
Both while in custody and while receiving medical treatment, Bowers told SWAT officers that he wanted all Jews to die and that “they were committing genocide to his people.”
Bowers is a Pittsburgh resident, though officers are unaware of whether he interacted with law enforcement before today. He has an active licence to carry firearms and has made at least six known purchases since 1996, a law enforcement official told CNN.
A neighbor of the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre says the suspect kept to himself.
Chris Hall said Sunday that he never heard or saw anything to indicate that 46-year-old Robert Bowers harbored anti-Semitic views or posed a threat.
Authorities say Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during worship services before a tactical police team shot and wounded him. Bowers faces state and federal charges.
Hall says nothing stood out about Bowers. He says “the most terrifying thing is just how normal he seemed.”
The suspect’s full motive is unknown, though a full investigation is currently being conducted by the FBI.
His social media posts indicate a variety of anti-Semitic convictions and conspiracy theories, though many of his accounts have recently been taken down.
In one post on a right-wing Twitter-alternative platform, Bowers said that the Jewish refugee organization, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “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,” Reuters and CNN report.
- Canada’s homicide rate is at the highest level in 30 years
- Suspect arrested in Morocco after school bomb-threat scares in Ontario, Belgium
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service staff allege rape, bullying in ‘toxic’ B.C. office
- Ontario man poses as federal agent, romancing women while scamming them out of millions
The comment was posted on Gab.com, a Philadelphia-based social networking service created as an alternative to Twitter. In a statement, Gab confirmed the profile belonged to Bowers.
“Gab took swift and proactive action to contact law enforcement immediately,” representatives from the site told Reuters. “We first backed up all user data from the account and then proceeded to suspend the account. We then contacted the FBI and made them aware of this account and the user data in our possession.”
Bowers also re-posted and shared several anti-Semitic posts on the platform. Following the shooting, Gab.com was temporarily taken offline after being denied hosting services by its providers but came back online early Sunday morning.
The FBI are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
–With files from Reuters and the Associated Press.