Pennsylvania jury convicts Pittsburgh synagogue shooter on all 63 charges News
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Pennsylvania jury convicts Pittsburgh synagogue shooter on all 63 charges

A Pennsylvania jury convicted the gunman responsible for the shooting deaths of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on all 63 counts Friday. Robert Bowers will appear in court again on June 26 to determine his sentencing, which includes a potential death sentence.

The jury delivered its verdict Friday afternoon at the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh—only five miles from where the 2018 shooting occurred. The courtroom did not allow cameras inside for the duration of the proceedings, but reporters inside the room detailed the jury’s findings. Local Pittsburgh newspaper TribLIVE reported the jury convicted Bower on all 63 charges, including obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, use of a firearm to commit murder and obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in injury.

Of the 63 charges, counts 1–11 were capital offenses. Because Bowers was convicted on those charges, he now faces a potential death sentence. The sentencing phase occurs separately and apart from the jury’s verdict on the charges, however, so Bowers will appear again in court on June 26 to determine his sentence.

Responding to Bower’s conviction, CEO of Tree of Life Synagogue Carole Zawatsky said:

While the verdict will not bring back your loved ones who were so violently killed, my hope is that today provides some level of comfort and helps to ease the pain, even if ever so slightly. May their memories always be for a blessing.

The shooting occurred on October 27, 2018, during Shabbat services. Bowers entered the building with multiple firearms and opened fire on the congregation gathered inside, resulting in 11 deaths and 7 injuries. Over the course of Bowers’ trial, federal prosecutors for the Western District of Pennsylvania revealed evidence of Bowers’ participation in and consumption of white supremacist media. This evidence is what ultimately led a federal grand jury to indict Bowers on 44 counts, including federal hate crimes. The indictment was later amended in January 2019 to include 19 additional charges, resulting in the final count of 63 charges.

Separate from the federal proceedings, Marc Simon, the son of two of the shooting victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue, filed a January 2021 civil lawsuit against firearms manufacturer Colt and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Because the NRA declared bankruptcy, the lawsuit against the organization was stayed while the lawsuit against Colt was allowed to proceed.