Advertisement

Father of Pittsburgh shooting suspect was accused of rape, died by suicide in 1970s

Accused in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting pleads not guilty
WATCH: Robert Bowers, the man charged with opening fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, pleaded not guilty after being indicted on 44 counts, including murder charges that could carry the death penalty.

As an investigation of Pittsburgh shooting suspect Robert Bowers continues, details are beginning to emerge about his father, Randall Bowers, who was accused of rape in 1979 and later committed suicide.

Bowers was charged with 44 federal crimes this past Saturday after he allegedly entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill region of Pittsburgh and open fired on a Shabbat service, killing 11 people, marking the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

According to documents from the County of Allegheny’s Office of the Clerk of Courts — originally retrieved by CBS — Randall was accused of following a woman out of a pizza restaurant and forcing his way into her car in April 1979. His case was filed with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on April 27, 1979.

Story continues below advertisement

The victim reportedly feared for her life, court records originally retrieved by the Pittsburgh Post-gazette revealed, and drove the elder Bowers to Squirrel Hill. It was reported that he threatened to kill the woman and sexually assaulted her upon arrival. Randall was 27 at the time.

While he was arrested, Randall was released on bond and did not show up for his court hearing in October. Police then issued a warrant for his arrest, but his body was found in a picnic area in the Tionesta Dam. The report states that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Randall Bowers criminal file was sealed by a judge on Thursday, but was released after the Post-Gazette and several other media outlets objected.

CBS reports that an agreement was reached during a hearing which would see the file released while redacting the names of the victim and witnesses until they could be notified of its release.

There is little other information about Bowers’ father, though several news articles published in 1979 corroborate the dates and charges against him.

The investigation into last Saturday’s shooting has been treated as a hate crime by the FBI, and suspect Robert Bowers, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 44 federal charges that could result in a death sentence. Bowers, 46, was arraigned on a 44-count indictment charging him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers pleads not guilty

It was his second brief appearance in a federal courtroom since authorities say he opened fire at the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

Authorities say Bowers raged against Jews during and after the massacre.

The funerals for those killed in the shooting, which included a doctor, a husband and wife, two brothers and a Toronto native, began on Tuesday and have continued each day since.

Bowers remains jailed without bail.

— With files from the Associated Press