Law enforcement has named 46-year-old Robert Bowers as the man behind a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that left 11 dead and six injured, including four police officers. The attack is considered to be a hate crime, and is being investigated by the FBI.
Bowers, who was also injured in the shooting, reportedly told police that “all these Jews need to die,” and posted anti-Semitic comments on Gab, a site that vehemently defends free speech, and frequented by the alt-right. Just before the shooting, Bowers posted a comment on his purported account, referencing the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HAIS) and said, “I can’t sit by an watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”
His account has since been suspended, but some reporters managed to grab images of his account, where he wrote and recirculated racist comments about Jewish and Muslim people, as well as conspiracy theories. According to USA Today, he also previously wrote that he did not vote for Donald Trump.
After today’s shooting, Gab published a statement saying that it “unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.” Later in the day, payments processor Paypal also discontinued its relationship with Gab. (Google had already banned the Gab app from the Android store in 2017.)
As Annabelle Timsit writes for Quartz, anti-Semitism in the US has been on the rise since 2016 in the form of harassment, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions.
Update (Oct. 27): This post has been updated to reflect up-to-date fatalities and injuries, and the fact that Gab was banned by Paypal after the shootings.