Tree of Life Synagogue Mass Shooting Trial Begins: What to Know


Here’s what you should know as the process begins:

At the time of the attack, the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha synagogue, located in a friendly neighborhood with a rich Jewish history, was home to three different congregations, all congregating for services in different parts of the building. Founded more than 150 years ago in Pittsburgh, the Tree of Life church and the smaller New Light church are both part of the conservative branch of Judaism; The third church, Dor Hadash, is Reconstructivist, a more liberal branch.

Members of all three communities were killed in the attack. The victims were Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Daniel Stone, 71; Melvin Wax, 87; Irving younger, 69; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; husband and wife team Bernice, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 87; and brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54.

Six people were injured, including four police officers.

The attack caused shock and outrage around the world and brought people from all faiths together in Pittsburgh to support the attacked communities. Some members of Dor Hadash formed a non-profit organization to advocate for new gun laws. The Tree of Life building, which sat empty for years after the massacre, is being redesigned by architect Daniel Libeskind and will soon be home to a new organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism. On Sunday, members of the Lebensbaum congregation gathered in the garden of the synagogue to bid farewell to their old building.

Mr. Bowers grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, where he was raised by his mother and extended family. When he was a child, his estranged father was accused of raping a woman in the same neighborhood where the mass shooting would later take place, and killed himself before the trial.

After high school, Mr. Bowers worked as a delivery driver for a bakery and later as a truck driver. He tinkered with electronics, worked the website for a conservative radio talk show, and, neighbors said, mostly kept to himself, at least in the offline world.