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Synagogue shooting darkest day in history of Pittsburg: mayor


Press Trust of India Washington
The mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburg that killed 11 people is the "darkest day" in the US city's history, Mayor Bill Peduto said Sunday, as officials released the names of the deceased and provided additional information about the shooter.
Of the 11 victims, the youngest one was 57-year-old while the oldest one was 97.
Robert Bower, 46, who was arrested immediately after the shooting, has been charged with hate crime.
"We have been knocked down, and we have found ways to stand back up. And we have always done it in one way, by working together. We will get through this darkest day of Pittsburgh's history by working together," Peduto told reporters at a news conference in Pittsburg.
According to US Attorney Scott Brady, Bowers, armed with multiple weapons, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, where members were engaged in religious services and worship.
He had three Glock .357 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle. Inside the synagogue for about 20 minutes, Bowers shot and killed 11 individuals and wounded two others. He also shot at police officers who responded to the crime. Ultimately, four police officers were injured and three of them were shot.
"During the course of his deadly assault on the people of the synagogue, Bowers made statements about genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people," Brady said, adding that after a standoff with police, Bowers eventually surrendered and remains in federal custody.
Bowers has been charged with 29 separate federal crimes, including 11 counts of murdering victims who were exercising their religious beliefs and 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder.
"Each of these counts is punishable by death," he said.
The final seven counts are the harm inflicted by Bowers upon the brave police officers who, in trying to stop Bowers' rampage, put their own lives in danger. Bowers is scheduled to make his initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge on Monday, October 29.
Bowers, who was formally taken into federal custody Saturday night, is still in hospital following surgery, and under guard. He remains in fair condition at Allegheny General Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
"At this point, we have nothing to indicate that Bowers had accomplices," said the FBI officer Robert Jones, according to whom it will take weeks to complete the investigation.
The FBI has conducted search of his house and his vehicle.
"We continue to conduct interviews, scrub social media, review possible surveillance camera video, and exploit digital media to determine how and why Bowers committed this terrible act," Jones said.
"There's no indication that he's working with anyone else. And so we have charged it and are treating it as a hate crime, but continue to investigate," Brady said, adding that as of now, it is not a domestic terrorism.
The distinction between a hate crime and domestic terrorism is, a hate crime is where an individual is animated by a hatred or certain animus towards a person of a certain ethnicity or religious faith. It becomes domestic terrorism where there is an ideology that the person is then also trying to propagate through violence," Brady said.
As of now, it is being treated as a hate crime, he added.

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First Published: Oct 28 2018 | 11:35 PM IST

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