Pittsburgh Shooter Used the Same Deadly Weapon That Led to Mass Murders in Parkland and Las Vegas

A 97-year-old Holocaust survivor was among the 11 who died.

A memorial vigil in Pittsburgh Saturday night for the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.Gene J. Puskar/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

At a press conference Sunday morning, federal officials announced new details about the deadly shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday morning. They said the accused gunman Roberts Bowers killed 11 people, ranging from 54 to 97 years old. The victims included a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, a pair of brothers, and a husband and wife.

The 46-year-old Bowers used three Glock .357 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle, the same weapon used in mass shootings that have taken place in Parkland, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Newtown, Orlando, and Aurora. 

The attack is being treated as a hate crime, and Bowers will make his first appearance in court Monday to face 29 federal charges. Scott Brady, the US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said Bowers “made statements about genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people.” According to the criminal complaint, Bowers said during his deadly attack “They’re committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews.”

Bowers’ social media posts indicate he blamed Jewish organizations, specifically the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), for helping to bring refugees to the US. He frequently posted about the migrant “caravan” from Central America that Donald Trump and conservative news outlets have repeatedly highlighted as bringing “an onslaught of illegal aliens” in recent weeks. Yesterday, just before he entered the synagogue, Bowers wrote on the social network Gab, which hosts extremist right-wing views, “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.” 

The Pittsburgh shooting has reignited the national debate over gun control. Donald Trump said on Saturday that the shooting could have been prevented with armed guards at the synagogue and dismissed the need for stricter gun laws. At the press conference on Sunday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, rejected his dismissal, saying, “I think the approach we need to be looking at is how we can take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of those that are looking to express hatred and murder.” 

Trump held a campaign rally on Saturday night in southern Illinois, where he said “this evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us,” and then ended the night by tweeting about the flawed managerial decisions of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend