Robert D. Bowers, a 46-year-old, went on a shooting rampage on October 27th at the Tree of Life Congregation. The horrific incident killed at least eleven congregation members. Two additional victims and four police officers were wounded.
According to initial reports, Bowers stormed into the synagogue armed with an assault rifle and three handguns. He immediately began shouting anti-Semitic obscenities before beginning to discharge his weapons. The array of bullets struck multiple victims, instantly killing eleven victims. Six others were wounded. The gunfire lasted for about 20 minutes. Officers were dispatched within sixty seconds after receiving the call about an active shooter at the synagogue. The perpetrator attempted to hide inside the synagogue when police arrived. As more officers surrounded the area, the suspect attempted to shoot officers down. After a short standoff, the suspect was taken into police custody.
The Anti-Defamation League is calling this incident the “deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” The Department of Justice has confirmed its intention to charge the suspect with a hate crime. Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, confirmed that charges against the suspect include ones “that could lead to the death penalty.”
Investigators discovered that Bowers had a history of making discriminatory, anti-Semitic posts and arguments on social media pages. He repeatedly targeted online profiles who identified as Jewish, and he was a frequent user of the social media site “Gab.” According to media outlets, Gab is a site that is very popular with white supremacists and far-right individuals with fringe beliefs.