PITTSBURGH, PA (AP) — Tuesday’s hearing heard from a Pittsburgh tactical officer who was one of the first to enter the synagogue during the shooting that left 11 dead. He said that Robert Bowers had made numerous references to the killing of Jews.
In a hearing that is expected to last two days, Officer Stephen Mescan was first to testify. This hearing will examine whether prosecutions will have the right to use statements made by Bowers on the day of October 2018’s massacre.
Federal prosecutors played dozens more snippets of police radio transmissions from that scene. One in which Mescan stated: “Suspect was talking about all those Jews need to be killed’.” Mescan said to U.S. District Court Judge Donetta W.Ambrose that Bowers made similar statements that day.
Bowers, who is facing over 60 federal charges, including hate crime violations and obstruction of religious belief, as well as the use of firearms during a crime against violence, was not present at the Pittsburgh federal courtsroom Tuesday. Bowers has pleaded not guilty to the charges and could be sentenced to death if convicted.
Authorities claim that Bowers, 49, from Baldwin, Pennsylvania, committed the most brutal attack on Jews in American history. Six other people were also hurt at the Tree of Life synagogue, five of them police officers.
Investigators believe Bowers opened fire using an AR-15 rifle as well as other weapons during worship services within the building. Eight men and three women were killed. After a tactical police team located him, they shot him.
Tree of Life and Dor Hadash were holding Sabbath services at different locations in the large building located in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hills neighborhood when the attack took place.
Mescan claimed that when he entered the building with other tactical officers, he saw two victims to their right who had been shot multiple times and a trail blood leading to the basement.
The hearing is expected last all day and will continue Wednesday.