Feds to pursue death penalty for Pittsburgh shooter

U.S. Attorney Scott Brady says federal prosecutors are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty against Robert Bowers.

By Associated Press

U.S. Attorney Scott Brady says he has begun the process to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ approval as required by law to pursue a capital case against Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers.

Brady says multiple search warrants have been issued in the investigation of Bowers, a long-haul trucker who worked as an independent contractor.

Police responding to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue wounded Bowers and arrested him. Bowers appeared briefly in court early Monday afternoon for a hearing.

Earlier in the day on Monday, around 2,000 mourners packed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh and thousands more stood outside at a vigil for the 11 who were killed during Sabbath services at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said he began services at 9:45, and the shooting started a few minutes later.

He said there were 12 in the sanctuary at the time, most sitting in the back.

Myers said, “I helped pull out the people that I could from the front. But, alas, I had eight people in the back. One fortunately survived.”

Myers added, “I’m a survivor. I’m a mourner. Seven of my congregants were shot dead in my sanctuary. My holy place has been defiled.”

Among the victims of the attack were Bernice and Sylvan Simon, who were remembered by longtime friend Jo Stepaniak as always ready to help others “with a smile.”

Eighty-six-year-old Sylvan Simon was a retired accountant with a good sense of humor, the kind of person his former rabbi felt comfortable joking with after Sylvan Simon broke his arm a couple of weeks ago.

Bernice Simon was a former nurse. Neighbors say the 84-year-old loved classical music and devoted time to charitable work.

Emeritus Rabbi Alvin Berkun says both Simons were “an active, steady,” and devoted presence at Tree of Life synagogue.

Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, was among the international figures who sent a message of solidarity after the mass shooting, saying Israel stands with the victims and the Pittsburgh community.

In a videotaped message set to open an interfaith vigil Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin told participants, “You are not alone! The people of Israel and the entire Jewish people stand with you!”

“We must say loud and clear — this was an act of anti-Semitism. We cannot, we must not, we will not ignore it or tolerate it.”