This courtroom sketch depicts Robert Gregory Bowers, who was wounded in a gun battle with police as he appeared in a wheelchair at federal court on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (Dave Klug via AP)

Pittsburgh synagogue suspect pleads not guilty

Robert Gregory Bowers, accused in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, appeared briefly in federal court to face charges he killed 11 people.

The anti-Semitic truck driver accused of gunning down 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges that could put him on death row.

Robert Bowers, 46, was arraigned one day after a grand jury issued a 44-count indictment that charges him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes. It was his second brief appearance in a federal courtroom since the weekend massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

Authorities say Bowers raged against Jews during and after the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

Bowers, who was shot and wounded during a gun battle that injured four police officers, walked into court under his own power, his left arm heavily bandaged. He was in a wheelchair at his first court appearance on Monday.

Bowers, who is stocky and square-faced with salt-and-pepper, closely cropped hair, frowned as the charges were read but did not appear to have a reaction as a federal prosecutor announced he could face a death sentence. He told a prosecutor he had read the indictment and, when asked if he understood the charges, said “Yes!” in a loud voice.

Bowers had been set for a preliminary hearing on the evidence, but federal prosecutors instead took the case to a grand jury.

The panel issued the indictment as funerals continued for the victims.

Jared Younger of Los Angeles told mourners that he waited for hours Saturday for his father to pick up his phone or let them know he was all right. The dread built all day until his sister learned their father, Irving Younger, had indeed been shot and killed.

“That waiting stage was just unbearable,” Jared Younger said at his father’s funeral Wednesday. “Saturday was the most lonely day of my life.”

Related: Victims of shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue remembered in Kelowna

Related: Canadians hold vigils in solidarity with Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

Funerals were planned Thursday for Bernice and Sylvan Simon, husband and wife, and Dr. Richard Gottfried, a dentist who worked part-time at a clinic treating refugees and immigrants. The oldest victim, 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, will be honoured at a service Friday. Her daughter was injured in the attack.

Friends recalled Irving Younger, 69, as a “kibbitzing, people-loving” man. He was one of the first people Rabbi Jeffrey Myers met when he came to town last year from New Jersey to lead Tree of Life.

Myers, who survived the massacre, is presiding over five funerals for seven congregants this week. He ran a few minutes late to Younger’s service because he was still at the burial for another victim, Joyce Fienberg.

“I can’t imagine the stress he’s under,” said his predecessor, Rabbi Charles “Chuck” Diamond.

As Younger’s service was wrapping up, Myers momentarily forgot to read a letter to the family that another rabbi had sent.

“After preparing for five funerals, you get a little verklempt,” Myers said.

Bowers remained jailed without bail.

Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Tahltan fighter from Telkwa wins provincial award

Lando Ball recognized for his commitment to and accomplishments in karate and for community service

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Council votes to pen letter to fisheries minister asking for earlier Chinook opening date

The DFO is set to reassess Chinook fishing ban in Skeena River on July 15

Native Women’s Association calls for police reform in wake of recent Indigenous deaths

Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi both recently died following interactions with police

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Community infrastructure funding announced for 24 Northern B.C. projects

Recipients include municipalities, First Nations and not-for-profits

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

Most Read