Defendant in Pittsburgh synagogue massacre carried out attack, defense acknowledges as trial begins

Robert Bowers carried out the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history when he killed 11 people and injured seven others by storming a Pittsburgh synagogue and shooting everyone he could find. On that, everyone agrees.

Even though Bowers’ defense conceded the point Tuesday at the outset of his federal trial, they hope to spare the suburban truck driver from a possible death sentence over the Oct. 27, 2018, attack at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Dramatic evidence and descriptions from witnesses marked the start and end of testimony on day one of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial.

Tree of Life congregation Rabbi Jeffrey Myers testified Tuesday afternoon that he heard gunfire during the service. He told congregants to get down to the floor and be quiet. He said he then heard multiple bursts of gunfire getting louder and closer. Myers also described trying to assist worshippers to leave the building.

The first witness to testify was an Allegheny County 911 call taker on the day of the shooting. Shannon Basa-Sabol described victim Bernice Simon telling her Simon’s husband had been shot. There was the sound of gunfire in the background on the call and then Bernice Simon herself was shot. The witness was sobbing as she left the courtroom after her testimony.

Read more: WTAE (Pittsburgh, PA)