Gun violence in the US

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty

  • In court, Robert Bowers spoke little other than saying he understood the charges against him and that some of them could result in the death penalty
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 11:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 12:54am

The man charged with opening fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue and killing 11 worshippers pleaded not guilty on Thursday in a federal court to all 44 counts against him, including hate crimes and firearms offences.

Robert Bowers, 46, an avowed anti-Semite, appeared defiant and determined in court. Dressed in a red jumpsuit and with a bandaged left arm, he walked into the courtroom with what appeared to be a swagger.

He spoke little, other than to say he understood the charges against him, and that some of them could result in the death penalty, followed by entering a plea of “not guilty”.

Bowers was injured during a shoot-out with police at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

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He appeared in court on Monday chained to a wheelchair.

His appearance in court on Thursday came as funerals for three more victims were planned during the day.

Funerals will be held for Sylvan Simon, 86, his wife, Bernice, 84, and for Richard Gottfried, 65.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Bowers.

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He is accused of bursting into the synagogue and opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle and three pistols during a prayer service as he shouted “All Jews must die.”

Six people, including four police officers, were wounded before the suspect was shot and surrendered.