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NEW YORK (KDKA/AP) – President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty for the man accused of killing 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, and he says capital punishment should be brought back “into vogue.”
According to police, 46-year-old Robert Bowers allegedly walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue yelling anti-Semitic slurs and shooting at worshipers while three separate services were taking place on Saturday.
Eleven people died and several others were injured, including four police officers.
Bowers made his first appearance in federal court Monday afternoon. Seated in a wheelchair, he displayed no emotion as he was brought into the courtroom.
Bowers is now being held in the Butler County Jail without bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday.
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U.S. Attorney Scott Brady filed federal hate crimes charges against Bowers on Saturday evening. Those charges include:
Eleven counts each of Obstruction of Exercise of Religious Beliefs Resulting in Death and Use of a Firearm to Commit Murder During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence, four counts of Obstruction of Exercise of Religious Beliefs Resulting in Bodily Injury to a Public Safety Officer and three counts of Use and Discharge of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence.
Brady says federal prosecutors are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty against Bowers.
Trump has gotten his wish, at least on the federal level, with death penalty cases ticking back up under his Justice Department after a near-moratorium on such prosecutions in President Barack Obama’s last term.
Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has so far approved at least a dozen death penalty prosecutions over the last two years.
But while the Justice Department under Trump has increased death penalty prosecutions, the numbers pale in comparison to that of President George W. Bush’s attorney general John Ashcroft, who in 2003 alone signed off on more than three dozen capital prosecutions.
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