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Truck driver behind deadliest antisemitic attack in US history will be sentenced to death

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A truck driver will be sentenced to death after killing 11 worshippers at a synagogue – the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history.

Jurors found Robert Bowers guilty in June for the October 2018 attack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and have been deliberating over whether he should face execution or life in prison without parole.

For Bowers to receive the death penalty, jurors needed to be in unanimous agreement.

The 50-year-old also wounded seven others in the shooting, including five police officers, after he barged into the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire with an assault rifle and other weapons.

Top row (L-R) Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, and David Rosenthal. Bottom row (L-R), Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger
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Bowers’ victims – Top row (L-R) Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, and David Rosenthal. Bottom row (L-R), Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger

Bowers was convicted of 63 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of the free exercise of religion resulting in death.

During his weeks-long trial, the court heard testimony from survivors and evidence of Bowers’ antisemitism – including posts attacking Jews made on a far-right website in the months before the attack.

A makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting. Pic: AP
Image:
A makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting. Pic: AP

Bowers turned a sacred house of worship into a “hunting ground” – targeting his victims because of their religion, a prosecutor had told jurors during the trial.

A woman also recounted how she was shot in the arm and then realised her 97-year-old mother had been shot and killed next to her.

Andrea Wedner told jurors she touched her mother’s body and cried out “Mommy” before officers led her to safety.

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