The police officers who were at the scene of the horrific Tree of Life synagogue shooting three years ago in Pittsburgh told a courtroom on Tuesday that accused shooter Robert Bowers spoke about killing Jews.
During a two-day hearing examining whether statements made by Bowers on the day of the October 2018 shooting, in which 11 congregants were murdered, will be admissible during trial, federal prosecutors played numerous clips from police radio transmissions from the crime scene. These included one in which officer Stephen Mescan said, “Suspect is talking about ‘all these Jews need to die,” the Associated Press reported.
Mescan testified that Bowers made other similar statement throughout the day.
Officer Clint Thimons said that when he asked Bowers why he committed the shooting, the accused shooter “was very calm and he said he’s had enough and that Jews are killing our children and the Jews had to die.”
A third officer, David Blahut, testified that after Bowers was taken into custody, he said: “These people are committing genocide on my people and I want to kill Jews.”
Bowers is facing more than 60 federal charges. These include multiple counts of hate crime charges, use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, and obstruction of religious belief in an attempt to kill.
The suspect has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The Tree of Life synagogue shooting was the deadliest ever attack on American Jews.
Besides the 11 worshippers who were killed, seven others were injured, including five responding officers.