The man accused of killing 11 Jews in an anti-Semitic attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue was charged in a 44-count indictment that includes federal hate crimes.
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Suspect Robert Bowers, 46, “made statements indicating his desire to ‘kill Jews'” in the shooting attack on Saturday, the Department of Justice said in its indictment Wednesday.
The charges include 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 counts of use and discharge of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.
“Hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement accompanying the indictment. “Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety.”
Grieving family, friends and neighbors of the 11 people gunned down at the Tree of Life synagogue meanwhile continued Wednesday with a series of funerals.
Friends and family gathered at separate funerals to remember Joyce Fienberg, 75, Irving Younger, 69, and Melvin Wax, 88, who were among the 11 worshippers gunned down.
Fienberg, a former research specialist, is survived by her two sons and grandchildren. Her husband, “internationally acclaimed statistician” Stephen Fienberg, died in 2016.
“My mother-in-law was one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met,” her daughter-in-law, Marnie Fienberg, told ABC News.
Joyce Fienberg’s most important relationships were the ones she had with her six grandchildren, who range in age from 15 to 8, her daughter-in-law said.
“She made a point of mastering social media very early so she could stay in touch with these kids,” Marnie Fienberg said. “Each one of them had a one-on-one relationship with her. She knew what was going on in their days; she was so involved. She really was an amazing, amazing grandmother.”
Melvin Wax, a retired accountant, was a fixture of the Tree of Life congregation, friend Myron Snider told The Associated Press.
Wax was known for being one of the few people who always showed up to services early, Marilyn Honigsberg told the AP.
“If somebody didn’t come that was supposed to lead services, he could lead the services and do everything. He knew how to do everything,” Snider told the AP.
Wax’s wife, Sandra, died in 2016.
Snider recalled that when he recently spent six weeks in the hospital for pneumonia, Wax “called my wife to get my phone number in the hospital so he could talk to me. … Just a sweet, sweet guy.”
Irving Younger, a former small-business owner and youth baseball coach, was a regular volunteer and worshipper at the synagogue, where he would come early and stay late, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw this gunman walk into the room where the services were and his first thought was, ‘Can I help this stranger get settled?’ Until he saw what the stranger was doing — because that’s the kind of thought that he would have,” said Schachter, the former congregation president.
Younger was also “the most wonderful dad and grandpa,”neighbor Tina Prizner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“He talked about his daughter and his grandson, always, and he never had an unkind word to say about anybody,” Prizner said.
President Donald Trump and the first lady, joined by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, visited the synagogue Tuesday afternoon.
The president placed stones, as part of Jewish tradition, and white roses on the Stars of David set up in a makeshift memorial for those killed.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers — who escaped the gunfire Saturday — greeted the president outside the Tree of Life as protesters gathered nearby.
Thousands of people from different faiths, apparently united in anger, marched toward the synagogue.
“Words have meaning!” some neighbors screamed toward the president’s envoy.
After visiting the synagogue, the president and first lady went to a hospital where they met police officers who were wounded in the attack and medical staff.