Synagogue Shooter Spewed Online Hate for Jews
Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh, who killed 11 people and injured six more Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue, posted on the site Gab.com on the morning of the shooting that “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.”
HIAS is a nonprofit that helps refugees — both Jewish and non-Jewish — around the world find safety and freedom. The organization says it is guided by Jewish values and history.
Gab has become an alternative to Twitter for users whose racist and harassing online behavior got them banned. The company said it disavows acts of terrorism and violence, but sees its mission as defending “free expression and individual liberty online for all people,” according to the Associated Press.
A post made on the site’s Twitter account on Saturday appeared to revel in the attention prompted by the killings, saying “We have been getting 1 million hits an hour all day.”
The Associated Press reviewed an archived version of the posts made under Bowers’ name:
In the description on his account, Bowers wrote “jews are the children of satan.” The cover photo featured the neo-Nazi symbol “1488.” The first two numbers refer to the white supremacist “14 Words” slogan, while “88″ stands for “Heil Hitler” since “H″ is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
Among his recent posts, Bowers posted a photo of a fiery oven like those used in Nazi concentration camps used to cremate Jews, writing the caption “Make Ovens 1488F Again.” But in other posts he also featured memes containing false conspiracy theories suggesting the Holocaust — in which an estimated 6 million Jews perished — was a hoax.
Another post derided Trump for being “a globalist, not a nationalist” and added that “there is no #MAGA” as long as there is a Jewish “infestation,” using a slur for Jews. The same post also referenced QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that started on the message board 4chan and has been spread by a fringe element of the president’s supporters.
Bowers also recently posted a photo of a collection of three black semi-automatic handguns he titled “my glock family,” a reference to the Austrian firearms manufacturer. He also posted photos of bullet holes in person-sized targets at a firing range, touting the “amazing trigger” on his weapon.