Who Is Robert Bowers, Alleged Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter?
The epidemic of violence that’s been festering in this country took 11 more lives Saturday, as a gunman, drunk on anti-Semitic hatred and hungry for blood, walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire on the gathered crowd.
Shortly before the attack, the gunman, 46-year-old Robert D. Bowers, who is well known on alt-right and white nationalist websites for spewing violent anti-Jewish slurs and sharing racist memes, posted a final message: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
He then took the 25 minute drive from his Pittsburgh home to the Tree of Life Synagogue, armed with a rifle and two handguns, and entered the house of worship, firing and shouting racial slurs.
According to Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), state records indicate that Bowers had 21 guns registered to his name. Law enforcement officials say that he had a clean record prior to his arrest, barring a 2015 traffic violation.
But Bowers was known in his online community on Gab, a social network that prides itself on its liberal free speech policies. A torrent of anti-Semitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories flowed from Bower’s account, posted to his community of far-right extremists and neo-Nazis.
Bowers’s own biography on the site read, “Jews are the children of Satan.”
Unlike Cesar Sayoc Jr., the Florida man arrested Friday for mailing over a dozen bombs to prominent Democrats and Democratic supporters, Bowers was not content with simply following President Donald Trump’s anti-liberal and anti-immigrant saber-rattling.
A day before the shooting, Bowers attacked the president for not purging people of other races and creeds from the country, writing, “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a [Jewish slur] infestation.”
Memes and images shared by Bowers showed edited images of the Auschwitz concentration camp with the words “Lies Make Money” written on its gates, and pictures of a suitcase filled with guns.
In a statement released by Gab, the company said that it was taking down Bowers’ account, and denounced Bowers’s actions, writing, “Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.”
The company also stated that it would be fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.
In the real world, Bowers’s neighbors claim that he was a reserved man who could often be seen smoking cigarettes outside his home. One neighbor claims that in the two years that she’s lived on the street, she could not remember ever seeing him speak to anyone.
Authorities are pursuing a swift and thorough investigation into Saturday’s shooting.
“The actions of Robert Bowers represent the worst of humanity,” said Scott Brady, the Western District of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Attorney. “Please know that justice in this case will be swift and it will be severe.”