Robert Bowers, the man accused of perpetrating a mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, had a social media account on which he allegedly telegraphed his intentions for the shooting and shared anti-Semitic and white supremacist commentary.
Just minutes before the shooting at a baby naming ceremony, the 46-year-old Pennsylvania man allegedly wrote on his Gab page, “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.” (CNN says that post was made about 5 minutes before the mass shooting.) Authorities say he did just that, shooting multiple people, including four responding officers, in the nation’s latest horrific mass shooting. HIAS is a Hebrew immigrant aid group. At least 11 people have died in the attack, and six more were wounded.
Daniel Stein, a new grandfather described as beloved family man, was the first deceased victim to be named. You can read tributes to the victims here.
Gab is a social media network that positions itself as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook because it champions free speech. Bowers is in custody; he has gunshot wounds and is in fair condition, authorities said. Gab has pushed back at criticism in the wake of the shooting, and released a statement. “Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners. This person also had accounts on other social networks,” it reads in part.
Three days ago, Robert Bowers, who also goes by the name Rob Bowers, wrote on the Gab account, “Daily Reminder: Diversity means chasing down the last white person.” His profile picture on Gab, where he’s had an account since January 2018, reads, “jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) — —- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh.” He also posted about weaponry. One post showing off guns included the phrase “my glock family.”
He shared, 17 days ago, the website of HIAS, which included a graphic of the “National Refugee Shabbat, a project of HIAS.”
He wrote, “Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided.” He then shared a link to a HIAS list of congregations. He also indicated support for Holocaust denial and referred to “oven dodgers” in one post.
The website of HIAS describes it as an organization that was “founded in 1881 originally to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, HIAS has touched the life of nearly every Jewish family in America and now welcomes all who have fled persecution.”
The link he shared to the HIAS website directs to a page that says, “National Refugee Shabbat 2018 is a moment for congregations, organizations, and individuals around the country to create a Shabbat experience dedicated to refugees.” It then listed participating congregations.
Robert Bowers is listed as an unaffiliated voter in Pennsylvania voter records:
Here’s what you need to know:
The Suspect Expressed Dislike of President Trump & Shared Virulently Anti-Semitic Commentary
Robert Bowers doesn’t appear to be a Donald Trump fan from his social account. He also wrote several hours before the shooting in a comment thread, “For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat.” That comment was a reply to a post that mentioned Trump.
Here’s a screenshot of that comment:
In a post two days before the mass shooting, he allegedly wrote, “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation. #Qanon is here to get patriots that were against martial law in the 90’s to be the ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp. But go ahead and keep saying you are #Winning.”
Trump has commented on the synagogue shooting, saying this:
“This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age. But we just don’t seem to learn from the past,” the president said.
Robert Bowers shared virulently anti-Semitic and white supremacist commentary. Some of his posts involved weapons.
He re-posted other anti-Semitic posts from other people. For example, one claimed, “Jews love persecution. It justifies offense and reinforces the need for strength in numbers to divide and conquer.”
He shared a cartoon someone else shared that showed a Jewish man saying in a fake conversation to Donald Trump, “Your character will appear to the public as a white racist. Its (sic) how we control Whites.” The Trump character responds, “yes sir” in a comment bubble.
The post shared by Bowers said, “The character we’ve chosen for you is of a good, strong white leader who is acting in the interests of his country. We must keep whites asleep for a few more years so they are totally outnumbered by our non-white minions and can never regain their country. Do this and we’ll keep your family safe & wealthy, & we won’t tell anyone about your trips to Lolita Island.”
He shared a post from someone else who used swastika and SS symbols with their name. “Kick the Jews OUT! This is Not Their Home!” it read.
He shared a post by someone else that read, “First Trump came for the Charlottesville 4 but I kept supporting Trump because he is better than Hillary Clinton. Then Trump came for the Rise Above Movement but I kept supporting Trump because he is better than Hillary Clinton. Then Trump came for the Proud Boys but I kept supporting Trump because he is better than Hillary Clinton. Then Trump came for me…”
He also reposted a comment from someone else that said, “Thought for the day: there are people running around warning you to not listen to the Nazis. 90% of the time these people are Jews…”
He also wrote, “(another person’s handle) be like: ‘Q is the way, the truth and the LARP. No one comes to the MAGA but by him.’ Also, you are still dodging my simple question. Are you or are you not a Jew?”
He shared another post that read, “Jews are waging a propaganda war against Western civilization and it is so effective that we are headed towards certain extinction.”
Police Dispatch Audio Indicates the Shooter Said He Wanted All Jews to Die
The active shooter at the Squirrel Hill Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made comments about wanting all Jews to die, according to police dispatch audio.
The audio, from Broadcastify, captured officers relaying the suspect’s alleged comments to dispatch.
“Suspect talking about all these Jews need to die. We’re still communicating with him,” said one officer on the dispatch audio. A short time later, another officer followed up with a similar disturbing comment.
“The suspect is talking about killing Jews. He doesn’t want any of them to live,” said another officer. One officer said the shooter claimed to be heading to his vehicle when he “engaged officers responding.”
Police confirmed that there are multiple victims.
“We have multiple casualties,” Pittsburgh police confirmed in a press conference. “We have dispatched to active gunfire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.” Police asked neighbors to shelter in place.
CBS Pittsburgh reported the suspect is a white male who was crawling and wounded. A Saturday service was underway at the synagogue when the mass shooting occurred.
According to dispatch audio, there was a shot officer down on the second floor, and a military style package was found. Officers referred to multiple weapons, including an AR-15. Officers were negotiating with the suspect to surrender. Scanner traffic is always preliminary and subject to change as more information comes out. In the audio, authorities were referring to devices while clearing the synagogue. Authorities were flying a drone over the building to see if they could have an access point to check out a “device.”
The synagogue was described as a landmark and anchor to the neighborhood.
Reporter Myles Miller, of PIX11, noted, “For those who don’t know, Squirrel Hill is Pittsburgh’s largest Jewish neighborhood. Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha is perhaps the biggest congregation in the area.”
You can read more about the mass shooting here.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gab as released a statement on the shooting that reads that its “policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we a have zero tolerance policy for it. Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. … We are saddened and disgusted by the news of violence in Pittsburgh and are keeping the families and friends of all victims in our thoughts and prayers.”