Prosecutors allege that Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Oct. 28 with multiple firearms and opened fire on three congregations, as well injuring several public safety officers, according to the Justice Department.
The DOJ confirmed that Bowers made statements like “kill Jews” while allegedly carrying out the shooting.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the announcement of the indictment Wednesday, blasting the religiously-driven nature of the attack.
President Donald Trump’s recent comments on ending the right of citizenship by birth through executive order were met with swift condemnation from anybody who knows anything about the Constitution of the United States, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). However, given the arguable affect his incendiary rhetoric seems to have on the public as well as the government agencies under his control, we mustn’t rest in safeguarding the single most important right granted under the document Trump swore to protect. Trump can cause great pain in this area, even without an amendment.
Most of us born in the U.S. do not receive a document stating that we are citizens. Rather, we receive a locally issued birth certificate that says we were born in the U.S. When we seek some proof of our status to travel, we apply for a passport with the local passport office, which is both primary evidence of our citizenship and the first and often only such proof any of us ever obtain. Those of us born here who leave the United States without a passport, perhaps because we were born to foreign parents or American parents who live abroad, apply for either a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a passport, or both, at a U.S. consulate or embassy. The consular function abroad is the responsibility of the Department of State.
“Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society,” he said.
“Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety. The defendant in this case allegedly murdered 11 innocent people during religious services and injured four law enforcement officers. These alleged crimes are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation.”
Among the charges are 22 related to the “obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs.”
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady said that with the announcement begins “the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims’ families, the Jewish community, and our city.”
“Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims,” he said.
According to the statement, Bowers “faces a maximum possible penalty of death, or life without parole, followed by a consecutive sentence of 535 years’ imprisonment.”
A date for Bowers’s trial has yet to be set.
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