The man who authorities say opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Saturday morning, killing 11 people and injuring six others, had a long history of anti-Semitic social media posts.
The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh, was taken into custody after surrendering to police. He was transported to a local hospital with unspecified injuries. FBI Special Agent Bob Jones said that Bowers was armed with an “AR-15 style” rifle in addition to three handguns. Bowers was not known to law enforcement before Saturday, Jones added.
According to KDKA, Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate, Bowers walked into the building and yelled “All Jews must die” before opening fire. Federal officials are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
Bowers was an active user of Gab, a Twitter alternative that promotes itself as supporting free speech.
An account appearing to belong to Bowers — now deactivated — was littered with anti-Semitic messages. His bio on the site read “jews are the children of satan.”
The most recent post, published shortly before the shooting, criticized the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for its resettlement of refugees.
“HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people,” he wrote. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughters.”
The post concluded with a chilling message: “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
In a post from two days ago, Bowers wrote that President Trump is “a globalist, not a nationalist.” It also referred to the so-called “QAnon” conspiracy.
“There is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation,” he added.
In another online post, Bowers showed off his collection of handguns, calling them “my glock family.”
In a statement, Gab administrators said they suspended Bowers’s profile once they’d been alerted to a verified account matching the name of the suspected shooter.
“We are ready and willing to work with law enforcement to see to it that justice is served,” they wrote, and also declared, “Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.”
Neighbors of the alleged gunman expressed disbelief.
Danielle Manko, 32, who lives across the street from the alleged shooter’s most recent address, told Yahoo News that “he’s usually never there.”
“I haven’t seen him in probably like three weeks,” she said, adding, “They always kept to themselves.”
Another resident who lives near Bowers’s apartment complex, 63-year-old Terrence Holleran, said it was “as much of a surprise to us as it was to anyone else” that an alleged shooter lived there.
“This is not an area that has a lot of problems,” Holleran said. “It’s just unfortunate that this asshole decided to live here.”
With Yahoo News’ correspondent Matt Stroud reporting from Pittsburgh
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