Robert Bowers, the suspect in the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, surrendered to police, and officials say he is in fair condition at Allegheny General Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
Authorities say that while Bowers’ motive remains unknown, “we believe he was acting alone.” Eleven people were killed in the attack, and six were injured.
“We’re in the early stages of this investigation,” Bob Jones, FBI Pittsburgh special agent in charge, told reporters during an afternoon press conference. “Over the next several days and weeks, we will look at everything in the suspect’s life: his home, his vehicle, his social media, and his movements over the last several days. At this point, we have no knowledge that Bowers was known to law enforcement before today.”
Bowers, 46, is a resident of Pittsburgh with a history of making anti-Semitic remarks on social media.
Some of those remarks appeared under an account believed to belong to Bowers on Gab, an app that says it provides an alternative to anti-conservative bias on Facebook and Twitter.
On the account, Bowers posted a link to the website of HIAS, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees. The link was for a Shabbat ceremony HIAS planned for refugees in locations across the country.
The caption to Bowers’ post read, “Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us?”
Hours before Saturday morning’s shooting, the account posted again, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, told NPR that he is in “a state of shock.”
“Refugees flee hate, and for this kind of vile act to happen in our country is devastating, and then on top of that to have it happen in a sanctuary, on the holiest day of the week, is unfathomable,” Hetfield said.
“There is simply too much space out there for hate, and it’s hatred against refugees; hatred against Jews; hatred against Latinos; hatred against transgendered people; hatred against African-Americans; hatred against the other,” Hetfield said. “It’s just hate across the board, and there’s too much space for it now. Everyone has to stand up to it now. We cannot tolerate this intolerance.”
Gab issued a statement on the synagogue shooting:
Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners. This person also had accounts on other social networks.
Gab took swift and proactive action to contact law enforcement immediately. We first backed up all user data from the account and then proceeded to suspend the account. We then contacted the FBI and made them aware of this account and the user data in our possession. We are ready and willing to work with law enforcement to see to it that justice is served.