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Man accused of hate crimes in deaths of 11 at Pittsburgh synagogue found guilty

Robert Bowers, the man who killed 11 worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, was found guilty Friday on all counts in a federal trial.

Robert Bowers, who was accused of shooting and killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, was found guilty Friday of all counts facing him.

Bowers was charged with 63 criminal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. 

On Oct. 27, 2018, Bowers opened fire with an AR-15 rifle and other guns at the Pennsylvania synagogue, although prosecutors and the defense sparred at trial over the 50-year-old's motive. Seven people were wounded, including five police officers. 

In closing arguments Thursday, a prosecutor told the jury that Bowers targeted his victims because of their religion, noting his extensive online trail of antisemitic and white supremacist content. Bowers also told police at the scene that "all these Jews need to die," prosecutor Mary Hahn said. 


Hahn also said one couple, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, "died in the pew they sat at week after week, year after year," according to The Associated Press.

The defense argued that Bowers was not trying to stop people from practicing their faith, an element of some of the crimes he is charged with. Defense lawyer Elisa Long argued that Bowers instead acted out of a delusional belief that he had to attack congregants because of their support of a Jewish humanitarian group that resettles refugees, people he viewed as invaders. 

Two hours before Robert Bowers burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire during a Shabbat service, he posted on the chat site about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the New York Times has previously reported. 

"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," a message attributed to Bowers said. 

HIAS, a Maryland-based nonprofit, helps refugees around the world and is guided by Jewish values, according to the organization. 

Police said Bowers had 21 guns registered in his name and was not known to law enforcement before the shooting. He is a registered voter with "no affiliation" in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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