Prosecutors mull death penalty for alleged Tree of Life synagogue shooter

PHOTO: Police tape is viewed around the area, Oct. 28, 2018, outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a fatal shooting in Pittsburgh, Oct. 27, 2018. PlayBrendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
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Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh are now deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty for alleged synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, according to a new court filing.

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The case against Bowers, who is charged with federal hate crimes including the murder of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue, returned to court briefly on Tuesday without the defendant present.

PHOTO: Members of the FBI and others survey the area, Oct. 28, 2018, outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a fatal shooting in Pittsburgh. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the FBI and others survey the area, Oct. 28, 2018, outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a fatal shooting in Pittsburgh.

During the hearing, attorneys referenced a document filed by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady indicating the Justice Department has now begun the process of deciding whether Bowers should be put to death.

“Ultimately, the Attorney General will render a decision whether or not to direct that a notice of intent to seek the death penalty be filed,” the filing said.

Bowers is charged with 44 separate counts, 32 of which carry the possibility of the death penalty, in connection with the Oct. 27 massacre at the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The Anti-Defamation League called it the “deadliest” anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

PHOTO: Robert Bowers is pictured in a booking photo released by the Butler County Prison on Oct. 30, 2018. Butler Co. Prison
Robert Bowers is pictured in a booking photo released by the Butler County Prison on Oct. 30, 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, Bowers drove to the synagogue where members of three congregations gathered for Sabbath worship. He entered the building with multiple firearms, including Glock .357 handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle.

While inside, the FBI said that Bowers opened fire, killing and injuring people, as well as injuring multiple public safety officers who responded to the incident.

He allegedly made statements indicating his desire to “kill Jews.”