PITTSBURGH — Residents in grief-stricken Pittsburgh are preparing for the first of many funerals Tuesday, as well as a visit from President Trump, who plans to meet with members of the Jewish community here despite the mayor’s request that he postpone the trip until after families bury those killed in Saturday’s synagogue shooting.
The man accused in the attack — the deadliest on Jews in American history, with 11 people killed — made his first court appearance Monday, two days after the massacre. Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old truck driver, was using a wheelchair because of injuries he incurred in a gun battle with police at Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. He allegedly told authorities upon his arrest that he was seeking to kill Jews.
Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell read the charges against him, including obstruction of exercise of religious belief resulting in death. Bowers, dressed in a blue sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, appeared coherent and alert. He said little, answering “yes” when the judge asked whether he had requested a public defender because he could not afford an attorney. He was being held without bail.
It did not appear that Bowers had any friends or family members present at the courthouse. The federal public defender’s office did not respond to requests for comment about the case.
One person who did attend was Jon Pushinsky, 64, a member of one of the congregations that meets at Tree of Life. “It was important to be here to show our congregation remains strong and will stand up, even in the face of evil,” Pushinsky said.