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WASHINGTON (AP) — The man arrested in the mass shooting Saturday at a Pennsylvania synagogue appears to have made virulently anti-Semitic posts on a social media platform popular with far-right extremists, including one made shortly before the attack.

Police have identified the suspect as Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh. A man with the same name 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 Maryland-based nonprofit group that helps refugees around the world find safety and freedom. The organization says it is guided by Jewish values and history. President and CEO Mark Hetfield said he wasn’t aware of the shooter’s “obsession with HIAS until this morning.”

The shooter opened fire at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people and wounding at least six others including four police officers. Bowers was wounded in a shootout with police and was reported to be in custody Saturday at a nearby hospital.

President Donald Trump characterized the mass shooting as an anti-Semitic attack and law enforcement officials said they were investigating it as a hate crime.

Bowers has no apparent criminal record. He was registered in Allegany County, which includes Pittsburgh, as an unaffiliated voter. Heavily armed officers responded to an apartment building in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon that may have been associated with Bowers.

In a statement, Gab.com said it suspended the alleged gunman’s account Saturday morning shortly after his name was mentioned on police radio chatter. The company said it backed up the content of the account and notified the FBI.

Gab has become an alternative to Twitter for users whose racist and harassing online behavior got them banned from the mainstream platform. 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.”

Gab founder and CEO Andrew Torba declined to answer emailed questions posed by an AP reporter. 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The Associated Press reviewed an archived version of the posts made under Bowers’ name. The screen name @onedingo, used on the Gab account, matches email addresses listed for Bowers in online databases that contain the same “onedingo” moniker.

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.

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Kunzelman reported from Silver Spring, Maryland. Associated Press reporters Allen Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia contributed to this story.

 

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4 thoughts on “Suspect In Synagogue Slayings Spewed Online Hate For Jews

  1. Trump tells his racist rally crowds to fear immigrants,blacks and muslims.he is making America Hate Again.Where is Uncle Tom Rapper Kanye West at….

  2. Ted Gravely on said:

    #45 owns and stroked the flames of hatred. Now he can’t distance himself from his spawn. I’m of the opinion that the leader of the Republiklan party is a racist. He called himself a Nationalist – that is the “politically” correct word for an old standby – Racist. The greatest threat to America’s democracy are White Racist Terrorists and the Institutions that support them. Foolish black people are easily tricked into believing that ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers, NOI, and other black organizers are damaging their efforts to assimilate. Our government wages war on black groups, but allow the Klan and White Nationalist to thrive. This isn’t isolated, it’s a problem. …….. These white Racist/Nationalist/Patriots and that includes #45 don’t care about anything but white people being in power. They are using ignorant n words. White people and those that think they are white have been scorching the earth for centuries. Wake up. VOTE. More importantly pray and defend yourselves. #45 owns this and I wouldn’t let him get a photo op with a grieving community. That racist is the leader of the klan. Turf Leader you’re correct – those racist LEOs allowed him to come out alive. Kill a boy leaving a party, fear for their life with a naked man, and God knows what they dreamed up with Sandra Bland. This racists kills 11 and wounds 6. The cowards had restraint and didn’t fire 100 shots. Go figure ——

  3. Turf Ruler on said:

    Not one police officer during the arrest of the mail bomber nor at the scene of the shooting in Pittsburgh has uttered their motto “they were afraid for their lives.” The shooter gave up after shooting 11 people dead and wounding six others including four police officers and was arrested and jailed alive at the scene. The pipe bomber was arrested without incident.

    They’re truck bombers, uni-bombers, mail bombers, synagogue shooters, African Methodist church massacre shooters, priests, a supreme court justice and even a president. Some of them may be good people but when a machine gun is fired from a hotel room or gun fire erupts at a children school in America, it can only mean one thing. A Dangerous White Person With a Gun or bomb (DWPWG).

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