Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty to federal charges

Defense attorneys for the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre entered a plea of not guilty Thursday...

Posted: Nov 1, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 5:38 PM

Defense attorneys for the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre entered a plea of not guilty Thursday to federal charges and requested a jury trial.

Robert Bowers, 46, walked into court in wrist, waist and ankle restraints Thursday, with a large bandage on his upper left arm. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds during a shootout with police and was released from the hospital three days ago.

2018 Pittsburgh synagogue attack

Anti-semitism

Belief, religion and spirituality

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Discrimination

Domestic terrorism

Hate crimes

Homicide

Indictments

International relations and national security

Law and legal system

Law courts and tribunals

Mass murder

Murder

National security

North America

Northeastern United States

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Racism and racial discrimination

Shootings

Societal issues

Society

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Violence in society

Dentistry

Health and medical

Medical fields and specialties

Misc people

Robert Bowers

Court trials

Trial and procedure

Thursday marked his second court appearance this week after a federal grand jury indicted him on 44 federal charges in last weekend's slaying of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue.

During the arraignment, Bowers watched prosecutors and nodded periodically. He responded "yes" that he understood the penalties of the charges, and his public defender, Michael J. Novara, entered a plea of not guilty, "as is typical," he said.

Of the 44 charges, 32 counts are punishable by death, a grand jury filing released Wednesday said.

The court hearing comes the same day that crowds of mourners will lay more victims to rest and as their memorials continue to grow.

On Monday, Bowers had been brought to the courtroom in a wheelchair and only spoke to answer the judge's questions. Bowers was appointed a local public defender Wednesday.

He is being held at the Butler County Jail without bond.

Suspect indicted in federal crimes

"Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims' families, the Jewish community, and our city," US Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement.

Bowers is charged with 11 counts each of obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, a conviction on any of which could be punishable by death, according to the indictment.

He faces 10 other potential death penalty charges, according to the federal indictment:

  • Two counts of obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, resulting in bodily injury;

  • Eight counts of obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon, resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

The remaining charges are use of a firearm during a crime of violence (two counts), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (nine counts) and obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs involving use of a dangerous weapon and resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer (one count).

"Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement announcing the indictment. "These alleged crimes are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation. Therefore this case is not only important to the victims and their loved ones, but to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire nation."

Married couple and devoted dentist remembered

In Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the mass shooting occurred, families and members of the Jewish community in the city and around the nation are rallying together to honor the victims of the massacre.

The third day of funerals for the victims will begin, with one celebrating the lives of Bernice and Sylvan Simon, while the funeral for Richard Gottfried is set for later Thursday afternoon.

The Simons were the "sweetest people you could imagine," a neighbor who lived next to them for nearly 40 years said.

Bernice, 84, was a former nurse, who loved classical music and devoted time to charitable work, and her husband, Sylvan, 86, was a retired accountant with a good sense of humor, CNN affiliate WPIX reported.

"They held hands and they would always smile. He would open the door for her, you know all those things that you want from another person," another neighbor, Heather Graham, told CNN affiliate WTAE. "They were really generous and nice with everybody,"

Gottfried, 65, was a husband, a brother and a compassionate hand who helped many in his community.

Gottfried and his wife had a dental practice, but he was getting ready to retire.

He volunteered at the Catholic Charities free clinic for more than nine years and was part of a group of dentists and specialists who offer educational lectures and workshops in dentistry. Gottfried and his wife also helped prepare interfaith couples for marriage through the St. Athanasius Church.

"He was about helping everybody," Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh Executive Director Susan Raucher told CNN affiliate KDKA. "Everywhere he could possibly be helpful, he was taking those hours and absolutely doing that. Regardless of source or background or any of that sort of things."

More funerals for the shooting victims are planned in Pittsburgh in the coming days.

West Lafayette
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 43°
Kokomo
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 39°
Rensselaer
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Frankfort
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 40°
Delphi
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Monticello
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 41°
Logansport
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 41°
Chilly and cloudy Tuesday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 164581

Reported Deaths: 4143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26055792
Lake14436358
St. Joseph9606168
Elkhart9271138
Allen8647231
Hamilton6400115
Vanderburgh617162
Tippecanoe396715
Porter347550
Hendricks3418134
Monroe335638
Johnson3286130
Delaware311575
Clark306263
Vigo275340
Madison250896
LaPorte239261
Cass229724
Warrick205065
Kosciusko201127
Floyd187468
Howard169466
Bartholomew147958
Marshall147428
Dubois146426
Wayne142031
Grant133539
Henry133030
Boone129150
Hancock124744
Noble122935
Jackson121018
Dearborn103128
Morgan100340
Lawrence96838
Gibson94412
Clinton92416
Daviess92334
Shelby90632
LaGrange82815
Knox81810
Harrison81024
Posey7767
Putnam77616
Fayette76719
DeKalb76011
Jasper6885
Miami6715
Steuben6608
Montgomery63122
White62316
Greene57838
Adams5607
Scott55413
Decatur52839
Ripley4838
Whitley4836
Clay4617
Sullivan45714
Wells45611
Huntington4455
Starke4438
Wabash4439
Orange42425
Spencer4176
Randolph39210
Jennings38713
Washington3873
Franklin38325
Fulton3785
Perry36914
Jefferson3655
Pike35718
Carroll34313
Jay3386
Fountain3293
Tipton28423
Vermillion2721
Parke2564
Rush2464
Blackford2394
Newton23711
Owen2151
Martin2050
Pulaski1783
Crawford1631
Brown1473
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1130
Switzerland980
Warren911
Unassigned0236

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events