Federal prosecutors are apparently seeking the approval of US Attorney General to pursue the death penalty for an anti-Semitic gunman, who murdered 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday morning.
Federal officials said Sunday that the murderer – 46-year-old Robert Bowers – who was arrested at the synagogue after a fire fight with law enforcement (in which four police officers were wounded) – faces 29 federal charges, many of which carry the death penalty. He has been hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds since the incident, but will appear before a federal magistrate today (Monday).
The charges include 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and several counts of hate crimes, such as obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.
Despite this lengthy list of charges, the assailant will not face domestic terrorism charges – as no such crime exists on the statute books.
The U.S. Patriot Act that George W. Bush passed in 2001 includes a working definition of “domestic terrorism,” but prosecutions related to it almost exclusively revolve around the designation of “providing material support” to one of the State Department’s designated list of foreign terrorist organizations. Despite the motivations for this vile attack being so clear, it was the action of a lone individual and not part of a wider organization.
Attorney Scott Brady said that he has initiated the process to get Sessions’ approval, as is required by law in cases seeking capital punishment.
The names of the deceased were also released, yesterday:
Joyce Feinberg, 75
Rich Gotfried, 65
Rose Malinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54 (brothers)
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86 (a married couple)
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Youngner, 69