Mass Shooter Receives Death Penalty

A jury in Pittsburgh has handed down the death penalty to the mass killer who attacked a synagogue in the city in 2018. Robert Bowers murdered 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in what is described as the worst antisemitic attack in American history. Prosecutors said the premeditated nature of the murders and the vulnerability of some of the victims meant that capital punishment was the only appropriate sentence.   

The family of 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, who died in the attack, said the jury’s decision was “a testament to our justice system and a message to all that this type of heinous act will not be tolerated.” Bowers was found guilty on 63 counts in June, including hate crimes and the obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death.

The punishment may never be carried out however due to a moratorium on federal death sentences imposed by the Biden administration in 2021. US Attorney Merrick Garland said at the time that his department would thoroughly review the death penalty to ensure it corresponds with the rights afforded by the US Constitution.

The horrific murders in Pittsburgh took place on October 27, 2018. Robert Bowers walked into the building while people were praying and shot anyone he saw. He murdered eight men and three women aged 54 to 97 and injured several more. Defense attorneys said he was suffering from severe mental health problems and asked prosecutors to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for a guilty plea, but this was rejected.

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, says that deadly attacks on American Jews are rare, but there are thousands of instances of harassment and vandalism every year. In a 2022 report, the group said there were 3,700 incidents during that year – the highest number since the 1970s. The report also states that attacks on Orthodox Jews increased by 69% compared to 2021.