On August 26, 2019, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice would seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers, 46, who carried out the October 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 and wounding six.
Prior to the attack, Bowers had been active on the Gab social media platform.
Bowers' post on Gab shortly before the attack (Source: Heavy.com/news/2018/10/robert-bowers-social-media-rob-gab/
Posts expressing support for the Justice Department's decision and also support for Bowers appeared in a thread started the same day on the 4chan platform's "Politically Incorrect" (/pol/) page, as did antisemitic comments. The thread's opening post included an image of Bowers with the text: "Donald Trump recently reinstated the death penalty and guess what? His justice department is going to seek death penalty for Robert Bowers, the guy that shot up the Pittsburgh Synagogue. This is the president that you voted for. He'll put any white person on death row if they go against the Jews." Some of the pro-Bowers posts referenced his final Gab post above.
The following is a review of posts on the thread:
Support For Justice Department Decision And Anti-Bowers Comments
A post supporting the Justice Department decision and expressing opposition to Robert Bowers and to Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof stated: "Good. Shooting up people in a house of worship should be a trip to the electric chair and straight to hell. I hope he takes Dylan [sic] Roof with him."
Support for the decision was shared in a post stating: "Dude anyone who shoots up anyone should be considered for death penalty."
Another post expressing support for the decision and opposition to Bowers read: "Good. Asshole can't die fast enough. Fuck him. And fuck you for defending spree killers."
Support For Bowers And Antisemitic Comments
A pro-Bowers post referencing Bowers' final Gab post prior to the shooting stated: "Muhhhhh [sic, 'my'] optics fuck off we need a million Robert Bowers."
An antisemitic and anti-President Trump post expressing support for Bowers included a graphic featuring Bowers and also referenced Bowers' final post: "But what about MUH [sic, 'my'] OPTICS. The orange turd [i.e. Trump] proved once and for all it doesn't matter, that you can even win the US presidential election and still not reform the system. The system can't be reformed, it can only be overthrown. There is no peaceful solution. Fuck the system and fuck all optics cucks. Hail Robert Bowers and death to ZOG ['Zionist-Owned Government']."
An antisemitic post stated: "But why do they do nothing about the jew hate groups? 2 million dead in the middle east this year alone. Tens of millions displaced into Europe and America, causing million of rapes and crimes. All because of jews." The post featured a graphic titled "In 2017, Jewish Hate Groups Increased By 700% – Here is a sample of the new wave of hate" and depicting numerous scenes of alleged Jewish violence.
Another pro-Bowers post stated: "Fingers crossed he doesn't get it [i.e. the death penalty]."
A post sharing a graphic featuring Bowers with a rifle and swastika quoted his final Gab post: "Screw Your Optics, I'm Going In." Another with the same quote depicted him projecting light from his eyes and included the neo-Nazi symbol known as the Black Sun.