Federal grand jury adds hate crimes charges to indictment against alleged Pittsburgh shooter

Robert Bowers (AFP/Getty Image)

by Mary Oster

(JTA) — A federal grand jury has added hate crimes charges to the indictment against the alleged gunman in the shooting attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 worshippers dead.

The new indictment announced Tuesday adds a total of 19 charges, including 13 for hate crimes, to the 44 federal charges already filed against Robert Bowers. Twenty-two of the charges are punishable by death, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Federal prosecutors reportedly are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty.

Bowers has requested a jury trial. He pleaded not guilty to the original charges at his Nov. 1 arraignment in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Along with the hate crimes, the new indictment include six firearms charges.

Bowers is accused of opening fire on worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue building on Oct. 27  during Shabbat morning services. He was armed with an AR-15 and three handguns, according to the indictment. He allegedly yelled “I want to kill all Jews” during the attack.

The indictment also notes that Bowers made statements against the Jewish immigration advocacy agency HIAS and Jews on the website gab.com.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” he wrote, according to the indictment.

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