Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday that the Justice Department is filing federal hate crime charges that could lead to the death penalty for Robert Bowers, the 46-year-old man who allegedly murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“These alleged crimes are reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation. Accordingly, the Department of Justice will file hate crimes and other criminal charges against the defendant, including charges that could lead to the death penalty,” Sessions said.
“Today 11 innocent people were suddenly and viciously murdered during religious services and several law enforcement officers were shot.”
Armed with an AK-47 and two handguns, Bowers reportedly opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Witnesses report that he yelled “All Jews must die!” as he opened fire on the congregation.
Several police officers who responded to the attack were injured. Bowers was arrested after surrendering to police.
A social media account operated by Bowers showed that he spread anti-Semitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
President Donald Trump called the attacks devastating and said that the gunman must “pay the ultimate price.”
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This article has been updated.