Synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers allegedly made a bizarre claim after murdering 11 congregants and injuring two others and four cops on Saturday. According to police, Bowers claimed that Jewish people “were committing genocide to his people.”
Here’s how the affidavit phrased it:
During the exchange of gunfire Bowers was wounded. While in custody and receiving medical treatment BOWERS made statements to SWAT Operator David Blahut that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people.
The suspect was arrested by local police on 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of attempted homicide, six counts of aggravated assault, and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation for the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. He was also charged in federal court with eleven counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, eleven counts of 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.
Social media activity linked to Bowers indicated is that he is a virulent anti-Semite, who shared posts complaining about Honduran and El Salvadoran immigrants migrating to the United States. He was a user on Gab, a “free speech social media platform” that has become known as an alternative to Twitter for far-right users. In the final post attributed to him, the alleged shooter voiced the belief, that HIAS, a pro-refugee group founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “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.”
The genocide claim is, on its face, is absurd, but echoes the “white genocide” talking point among white nationalists. The notion is that white people are psychically and culturally being displaced by people of color. Proponents discuss this in nigh-apocalyptic terms. Bowers’ alleged statements at the scene, and his final post echo that sentiment.
Victims have been identified as 75-year-old Joyce Fienberg, 65-year-old Richard Gottfried, 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, 66-year-old Jerry Rabinowitz, brothers 59-year-old Cecil Rosenthal and 54-year-old David Rosenthal, married couple 84-year-old Bernice Simon and 86-year-old Sylvan Simon, and 71-year-old Daniel Stein, 88-year-old Melvin Wax, and 69-year-old Irving Younger.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this article.
[Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]