Pittsburgh (AFP) - Robert Bowers, the suspect charged with slaughtering 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history, appeared in court Monday for the first time, in a wheelchair.
The 46-year-old, pasty faced and balding, made little comment during the three-minute hearing other than to respond "Yes" and "Yes Sir" to procedural questions from the federal judge. He wore a blue sweatshirt.
He faces 29 charges of violent crimes after opening fire during a baby-naming ceremony during Shabbat services on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including police officers.
He reportedly yelled "All Jews must die" as he burst into the Tree of Life synagogue, where congregants gathered for Sabbath services.
Bowers was taken into custody on Saturday after being wounded in a shootout with police and transferred to hospital. The extent of his injuries is unclear and he wore no visible bandages.
Bowers was wheeled into the wood paneled court room, number 8A at the US federal court house in downtown Pittsburgh, at 1:31 pm (1731 GMT) -- his face pale, his hair gray and a surly expression on his face.
His handcuffs were removed, allowing him to sign a piece of paperwork and he sat between two public defenders -- a man and a woman -- who represented him for the purposes of the brief procedural hearing.
He conferred with both lawyers, but their remarks were inaudible to the press gallery.
"Sir, are you Mr Bowers?" Judge Robert Mitchell asked the defendant. "Yes," Bowers answered.
Bowers replied "Yes Sir" when asked if he had received a copy of the criminal complaint after the judge summarized the charges.
Bowers' lawyers waived the right for the complaint and statutory penalties to be read out. The prosecution spoke only to confirm that Bowers was classified a "flight risk."
The judge scheduled the next court appearance for Thursday at 10:00 am and until then consigned the defendant to the custody of US Marshalls.
Court recessed at 1:38pm -- three minutes after it was declared open -- and Bowers was wheeled out of court at 1:39pm.
He faces 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religion resulting in death. The crimes of violence are based on civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes.
Authorities have said Bowers' charges could carry the death penalty.