Family, friends, & officials react to death sentence for Pittsburgh synagogue shooter

PITTSBURGH — The community is reacting as the jury in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial sentenced Robert Bowers to death.

Related Coverage >> Pittsburgh synagogue shooter to be sentenced to death

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UPDATE 9:45 p.m. Statement from former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

“Nothing can bring them back. Nothing can properly heal the physical wounds. Nothing can lessen the trauma or cure the emotional damage. But today, we begin to move forward - together. Wishing peace to all who suffer from the actions of October 27, 2018 at The Tree of Life.”

UPDATE 5:45 p.m. Statement from US Senator Bob Casey

“Today closes a painful chapter in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, but our work to honor the victims, and to root out antisemitism, must never end. Five years ago, fueled by hatred and bigotry, a shooter targeted worshippers observing Shabbat morning services in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in our Nation’s history. Eleven people were killed, six more were injured, and three congregations lost their house of worship. We can never bring back those 11 lives or forget the senseless attack on our Jewish community, but we can honor the victims and stand with our Jewish community by working every day to call out and end hatred and bigotry wherever we find it.

“Today, I am praying for the families of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger. May their memories be for a blessing.”

UPDATE 5:15 p.m. Statement from HIAS, the Jewish international humanitarian organization

“The shooting at the Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations targeted Jews, in part, for their support for welcoming refugees with dignity and compassion. Today’s sentencing marks the end of the judicial process, but this tragedy will forever be part of our story as an organization. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident, and it is important that violent extremism, antisemitism and hate not go unanswered. HIAS will continue to work with resolve and conviction for a more just society; we remain in solidarity with all communities targeted by hateful and xenophobic acts.

“We stand with the people of Pittsburgh and hope they can continue to heal from the loss and disruption in their community. We pray for a sense of closure, that the memories of those lost will forever be a blessing, and that the Jewish community of Pittsburgh will continue to thrive into the future.

“We are ever grateful for the partnership of Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh and their important work in resettling and supporting refugees, as well as the partnership of Congregation Dor Hadash, which continues its advocacy and support for refugees.”

UPDATE 5:05 p.m. Statement from Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff

The Pittsburgh synagogue mass murder was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Since this horrible tragedy, we’ve stood strongly with the victims, families, and community. We will continue to fight against antisemitism and hate of all kinds.”

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. Statement from United States Department of Justice officials

Attorney General Merrick Garland

“The horrific attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018, stole the lives of 11 innocent victims, shattered their families, gutted their congregation and the Pittsburgh community, and struck fear in the lives of Jewish people across the country. Hate crimes like this one inflict irreparable pain on individual victims and their loved ones and lead entire communities to question their very belonging. All Americans deserve to live free from the fear of hate-fueled violence and the Justice Department will hold accountable those who perpetrate such acts.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray

“The men and women of the FBI hold the Tree of Life Synagogue victims and the Pittsburgh community in our hearts as we continue to protect communities of faith from violent acts of hate. The damage caused by antisemitism cannot be understated, just as the tragic loss of the eleven victims cannot be measured. Healing will be a life-long journey for the survivors, families, and communities affected by this vile attack, and the FBI will be there to support them throughout that journey.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“The massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue imposed grievous and far-reaching harms and is a reminder about the ongoing threat that we face as a result of antisemitic violence and hatred in our country. The victims of these senseless murders were community and religious leaders and loving family members and friends. A jury of his peers held the defendant accountable for his hateful actions and provided justice for those killed and injured. The verdict, though, cannot bring back the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Nor can it heal the physical and psychological wounds of the survivors or dispel the hurt and fear of community members. We hope that this civil rights prosecution brings a measure of closure and highlights the determination of the Justice Department to protect people from antisemitic violence and other hate crimes in our country.”

U.S. Attorney Eric Olshan for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

“The evidence in this trial proved that the defendant acted because of white supremacist, anti-Semitic and bigoted views that unfortunately are not original or unique to him. Our Constitution protects a person’s right to hold repugnant beliefs. But our Constitution also protects every person’s right to practice his or her faith. When people who espouse white supremacist, anti-Semitic, and bigoted views pick up weapons and use them to kill or try to kill people because of their faith, our Office and our partners in law enforcement will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Each and every time.”

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. Statement from State Rep. Dan Frankel

“I’m grateful that the trial is over, so our community can move forward in recovery. I respect the wisdom of a jury who has found this act of hate and violence abhorrent and beyond the bounds of rehabilitation.

“This verdict doesn’t restore the lives of the people lost to hate. We will forever mourn them, and the loss is sewn into the fabric of our community, just as the building on the corner of Shady and Wilkins avenues attests to both the tragedy – and hopefully – the path forward in healing and education.

“My small part in this is to continue to fight against hate, against hate crimes, and try to compel the full force of our government against this viciousness, this antisemitism, and these attacks against targeted communities.”

UPDATE 4:00 p.m. Statement from the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

“The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will continue to stand with the families, witnesses, survivors, and the first responder community most directly impacted by the deadly synagogue shooting.

Their voices today, in the same room where many waited for news of their loved ones nearly five years ago, reflect the true character and resilient spirit that has marked their ongoing journey and that of our community.

We thank the members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their rigorous prosecution. The justice process is arduous, and we respect the jury for their lengthy service of civic responsibility and holding the convicted perpetrator accountable for his deliberate and heinous actions to the fullest extent of the law.

We recognize that while the impact of this antisemitic, identity based hate crime has far-reaching implications on a national stage, it will remain a deeply personal experience for our community and for the JCC.

May the memories of the 11 individuals taken from us on October 27, 2018, forever be a blessing for those who knew and loved them and whose stories have changed our lives.”

UPDATE 3:50 p.m. Statement from Office of the Allegheny County Executive

“Our community changed forever on October 27, 2018. The lives of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger were all taken because of the actions of one person, filled by hate. The shooting at the Tree of Life remains the worst anti-semitic attack in United States history.

Today’s verdict doesn’t right that wrong. For some, it may not even bring closure or comfort. It certainly doesn’t erase the horror and grief felt by the families of those who died, by the survivors, or our Jewish community.

Even today, almost five years later, I’m still overcome with emotions thinking about that day. But I also remember standing in the rain at Forbes and Murray, in the heart of our Squirrel Hill neighborhood, with thousands of our neighbors. They came together to show support, express their love, and mourn as a community.

Like we did in 2018, our community will continue to come together in a place where different faiths and backgrounds all share common hopes and dreams. Love is what binds us together and community is what makes us stronger. The power of community is needed now more than ever.

Our community must stand united against hate, against antisemitism, and in support of our Jewish family, friends, and neighbors.

Hold all of those impacted by this tragedy in your heart today and always.”

UPDATE 3:35 p.m. Statement from Gov. Josh Shapiro

“In the hours after the Tree of Life massacre, I stood with some family members and the Squirrel Hill community at the corner of Forbes and Murray, reflecting on the day’s tragedy and vowing to stand together going forward.

More than four years later, I was sworn into office on a bible that survived that day. I keep it with me in the Governor’s Office to remind me of those we lost and what we fight for.

While the memories have been painful over the past several weeks, our justice system did its job and found the murderer responsible for the deadliest act of antisemitism in American history guilty.

Hate speech begets hate crimes. We cannot tolerate antisemitism or any kind of hate in our communities, in our places of worship, or on our timelines. We are all less safe when one group is targeted.

Lori and I are thinking of the survivors, the families who lost loved ones, and the 11 Jewish people killed while they worshipped.

May their memories be a blessing.”

UPDATE 2:55 p.m. Statement from Simon Wiesenthal Center

“Bowers was a domestic terrorist who perpetrated the largest slaughter of Jewish worshippers in American history. This terrorist was validated and emboldened by others on social media. His just and legal conviction, sentencing, and execution, will send a clear message to tomorrow’s potential killers of innocents in their houses of worship in our country that such extremists will be held fully accountable under the laws of our democracy for any such heinous acts,” stated SWC Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action, Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m. Statement from Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

“The Tree of Life attack is reflective of a broader cycle of far-right extremism –rooted in white supremacist conspiracy theories and lies -- in which each attack inspires the next. It illustrates the deep interconnection of antisemitism and other forms of hate and extremism, making clear that all of our safety and fates are intertwined. Breaking this cycle requires not just accountability and truth-telling – but also cross-community solidarity in advocating for preventative measures that build resilience and advance the inclusive, multiracial democracy we need.”

UPDATE 2:28 p.m. Statement from ACLU officials

Two officials with the ACLU issued statements.

Claire Landau, acting executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania

“This crime is one of the most horrific that the city of Pittsburgh has ever experienced. Our hearts are with everyone touched by this terrible act. That the violent attack occurred in a synagogue in a time of rising antisemitism adds to the profound injury and pain experienced in the community.

“We realize that people of goodwill can have a variety of feelings about capital punishment in this context, especially those who have been personally harmed and traumatized by these events.

“Nevertheless, we cannot support the death penalty for this or any other case. Capital punishment exists as a system, not a single moment or case. And that system is unjust. That’s why each of the last two gubernatorial administrations in Pennsylvania have implemented a moratorium on executions and why our current governor has called for the repeal of capital punishment. In fact, despite his insistence on pursuing death in this case, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland himself declared a moratorium on federal executions six months into the Biden administration.

“With this death sentence, this case will go on for years. There will certainly be appeals, bringing that dreadful day back into the public spotlight again and again.

“The death penalty should be abolished. We’ll be better off as a commonwealth, country, and culture when capital punishment is part of our past and not our present and future.”

Yasmin Cader, deputy legal director and director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality

“This was a grievous attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and across the nation — and an attack on the ideal that all Americans should be able to gather and practice their faiths in safety.

“No death sentence can undo the harm that was done that day. More Americans are awakening to the reality that the death penalty is unjust. Death row exonerations, botched and barbarically cruel executions, ubiquitous legal errors, and its undeniably racially discriminatory application have led to rising opposition to the death penalty.

“To win a verdict of death, the Department of Justice attorneys engaged in a jury selection process that excluded all Black and Latino jurors and seated a nearly all-white jury. The jury did not represent the conscience of the community.

“President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have both recognized the profound errors inherent in the capital punishment system. President Biden promised to end the federal death penalty and Garland has paused federal executions — yet the Biden administration pursued death here.

“Precisely because the capital punishment system is cruel, racist, and unfair, we must end its practice for good. The Biden administration must keep its campaign promise and formally declare a moratorium on pursuing the federal death penalty.”

UPDATE 2:05 p.m. Statement from State Senator Jay Costa

“Legally, today closes the book on this painful, horrendous chapter in our community’s history. I sincerely hope that the families and loved ones of those murdered can begin to find some peace and healing. As we move forward, we must support each other and work together to make sure a tragedy like this never occurs again.”

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. Statement from Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala

“We respect the verdict in the federal proceedings and commend all who were involved in the process. We are however very mindful of the emotional strain that the families of all the victims have been under. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on our charges until we have had a chance to meet with the families.”

UPDATE 1:39 p.m. Statement from Bishop David Zubik

“My heart, and the prayers of all the people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, are with those who lost loved ones and experienced trauma due to the massacre of Jewish people by Robert Bowers in the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018. Three of my own acquaintances perished in that attack. My hope is that today’s verdict will bring closure to so much pain on the victim’s families, to all our Jewish sisters and brothers and on all in the southwestern Pennsylvania community and beyond.

My prayers for the families and loved ones of all who died in the Tree of Life Synagogue continue. May we honor the memory of those who have died through our good works done in their name.”

UPDATE 1:25 p.m. Statement from John Fetterman

“Today, I am remembering the victims who lost their lives in the Tree of Life massacre — eleven lives lost because of antisemitism and hate.

“I hope that today’s sentencing decision is a step toward justice and healing for the families of the victims, the survivors of the attack, and the broader Jewish community in Pittsburgh and across the country.

“This was a heinous crime, and I believe that the jury’s decision today is appropriate and just.”

UPDATE 1:01 p.m. Statement from Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

“With the verdict announced in the trial of the perpetrator of the attack on worshippers at Congregation Dor Hadash, New Light Congregation and Tree of Life Congregation, our sympathy and prayers go to the families of the victims, survivors and first responders directly affected; to these congregations who lost loved members; and to all of the people traumatized by this crime. We remember and honor the eleven victims: Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

We are grateful to the prosecution team for their meticulous process to seek justice for the victims, and we are grateful to the jury for their time and dedication in reaching this sentence. This trial shows that our justice system can work by giving a voice to the voiceless and by ensuring that we, as a society, can bring the perpetrator of this horrendous attack to account.

As this chapter comes to a close, we reflect on the strength and resilience of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and the entire community. Although healing is not a linear process, together we have supported people in need of mental health services and ensured that we stay safe from harm. In the wake of the horrors of the worst antisemitic attack in U.S. history, our community neither retreated from participating in Jewish life nor suppressed our Jewishness. Instead, our community embraced our Jewish values—strengthening Jewish life, supporting those in need, and building a safer, more inclusive world. We will continue to help people through the long healing process and to honor those who were taken from us by remaining a proud, vibrant, visible, strong, and connected Jewish community, now and for generations to come.”

UPDATE 12:52 p.m. Statement from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey

“I hope that today’s sentencing decision in the synagogue shooting case marks a step forward toward healing for our community. I hope that we can use this decision to start a new chapter that uplifts and protects our city’s Jewish community. But above all, I hope today’s decision provides a measure of peace for the friends and family of Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Melvin Wax, Daniel Stein, Irving Younger, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Cecil Rosenthal, & David Rosenthal. May their memories be a blessing today and every day. And may we continue to stand together as one Pittsburgh that’s stronger than hate.”

UPDATE 12:48 p.m. Statement from New Light Congregation

“Today, a jury of his peers unanimously found that the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for the worst anti-semitic act in the history of the United States – the murder of eleven innocent Jewish worshippers during Shabbat services on October 27, 2018.

We would like to thank the jury for their efforts. It is difficult to serve on a jury; it is especially difficult when tasked with the weighty decision they faced. We also wish to thank the United States Attorney’s Pittsburgh Office for their thorough and effective presentations and cross-examinations. While the shooter did not testify, the prosecution ensured that his words echoed through the testimony of both prosecution and defense witnesses. Finally, our heartfelt thanks go to Judge Colville for the respect and humanity shown throughout the trial.

The trial offered clear and compelling evidence that the heinous acts of the shooter were premeditated with the intent to kill. The shooter said – through the many defense and prosecution witnesses – that he intended to kill Jews. He did not see “people” as he walked the halls but “targets.” He said that his only regret was that he did not kill more.

And now the jury has unanimously decided that he should die for his deeds.

As a congregation, we were prepared to accept either decision: death or life in prison. Many of our members prefer that the shooter spend the rest of his life in prison, questioning whether we should seek vengeance or revenge against him or whether his death would “make up” for the lost lives. Vigorous debate continues about the purpose the death penalty serves.

Yet Attorneys General Barr and Garland concluded that this case was different, that the death penalty was appropriate. New Light Congregation agrees with the Government’s position that no one may murder innocent individuals simply because of their religion.

We take this position not out of a desire to seek revenge or to “even the score” but because we believe that the shooter crossed a line. Too often in the past – and not just the recent past - governments and religious authorities have looked away when murder and mayhem occurred against Jews. Too often in the past, these actions were sanctioned and championed by governmental authorities. Too often, perpetrators have been allowed to celebrate their depravity. Life in prison without parole would allow the shooter to celebrate his deed for many years.

New Light Congregation accepts the jury’s decision and believes that, as a society, we need to take a stand that this act requires the ultimate penalty under the law.”

UPDATE 12:46 p.m. Statement from Councilperson Erika Strassburger

“I once again thank the members of the jury for their exemplary service in this painful case. They have faithfully discharged their civic duties throughout a high-profile and gut-wrenching series of proceedings, and we owe them our gratitude for their contributions to our system of justice. I also commend the judge, court staff, attorneys, witnesses, and observers for their participation in this difficult matter.

In this final stage of the trial, the individuals on the jury wrestled with the challenging moral question of whether a sentence of death was the appropriate remedy for the defendant’s heinous crimes. This has been a test of one’s stance on the death penalty for many in our community; it is easier to say the state has no right to take life in the abstract than it is when the offender has taken the lives of those in your neighborhood, your faith congregation, or your family. I commend the jurors for their willingness to perform this balancing test, and I respect their ultimate decision.

October 27, 2018 and its aftereffects, painstakingly highlighted throughout this trial, have demonstrated the clear and ongoing threat that antisemitism brings to our society. False and derogatory beliefs about Jewish people, often blended into other toxic conspiracies, can have deadly consequences—the consequences all those impacted by these killings will continue to feel for the remainder of their lives. We will never be able to reclaim the lives taken that day, but we will honor their memories, continue the long, uneven process of healing, and resolve to fight hate in all its forms, wherever it lingers.”

UPDATE 12:45 p.m. Statement from American Jewish Committee

“As we collectively process the jury’s decision today, what should always be top of mind is the memory of the eleven people murdered in a synagogue while at prayer by a cold-blooded hater of Jews.

“Ultimately what is of most significance is not how the shooter will spend the end of his life, but the fact that the U.S. government pursued this case with vigor and demonstrated that such crimes will not be countenanced, excused, or minimized.”

Ted Deutch added:

“They were murdered for being Jewish.

May we preserve the memories of the 11 lives lost in the Tree of Life synagogue attack.

The Pittsburgh federal court jury issued a verdict today, and while we are grateful for justice, the Jewish community will always mourn the 2018 tragedy.”

UPDATE 12:40 p.m. Statement from Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence

“The jury today issued its final verdict, ensuring that the perpetrator of the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in American history will never walk free.

We thank the many participants in the judicial process, including the jurors, Judge Colville and his staff, the prosecutors and other Justice Department employees who worked long and hard to bring us to this day. We are also grateful to the law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way on October 27, 2018, and saved many lives.

And we remember the eleven people murdered that day because they were Jews and because of the easy accessibility of guns in our state and nation:

Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Rose Mallinger

Jerry Rabinowitz

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Daniel Stein

Melvin Wax

Irving Younger

We hold responsible, not simply the shooter, a damaged and angry man who should never have had access to deadly weapons, but those politicians and legislators who have fought against common sense gun laws, having seen the overwhelming evidence that they would save lives, but too cowardly or too financially vested with the gun lobby to do the right thing. We hold responsible every legislator and politician who has uttered hateful white nationalist rhetoric or has shared memes or other social media content amplifying the ‘great replacement theory,’ the unfounded conspiracy theory that a flood of non-white immigrants, organized by Jews, are coming to replace the white race. And we hold responsible those who continue to vote for such political candidates.

We call upon Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Baker and the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the two common sense gun bills which the Pennsylvania State House has already approved. We call upon the State House to pass additional bills requiring safe storage of firearms and banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. We call upon Congress to enact a broad package of gun safety legislation. And we call upon every voter to vote only for candidates who make gun safety a legislative priority.

We will always remember the eleven lost and strive to prevent any more from joining their ranks.”

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. Statement from the Tree of Life Congregation

Several Tree of Life Congregation leaders issued statements following the verdict.

Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers

“Today’s decision and the pending sentences on the non-capital crimes mark the closing chapter of an emotional, months-long trial. In the years we have spent waiting for this trial to take place, many of us have been stuck in neutral. It was a challenge to move forward with the looming specter of a murder trial. Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence, it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward. As we do, I have my faith, bolstered by the embrace and respect with which my community has been treated by our government and our fellow citizens. For this and the seriousness with which the jury took its duty, I remain forever grateful.”

Carole Zawatsky, CEO of Tree of Life

“Let us, this day, reaffirm our resolve to bring light into our world and keep the memory of each of the victims in our hearts. They were each individuals whose lives encompassed more than the horrors of a single day. May we remember them for their lifetimes of kindness and love. The jury’s decision will not bring them back, but my hope is that today marks a new chapter in the healing process and the future of this community. May we find glimmers of hope amidst the darkness. And may the memories of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Daniel Stein, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Irving Younger, Melvin Wax, and Rose Mallinger all be for a blessing.”

Alan Hausman, president of the Tree of Life Congregation

“I am thankful for the thoughtful deliberation and hard work of all who got us to today’s decision. Nothing about this process has been easy. I will forever be grateful for all those who have helped our congregation these past four-plus years: the public safety department and law enforcement officers, our fellow Pittsburghers, and people of all faiths and backgrounds from across the country and around the world. While today’s decision is hard, it also marks the start of a new chapter at Tree of Life, and I find myself hopeful because of the love and support we still receive as we continue to heal and move forward.”

Michael Bernstein, chair of the Tree of Life Interim Governance Committee

“The jury’s decision today marks the end of a very challenging and emotional time for our community, and the beginning of a new chapter filled with strength and optimism for the future. It is my hope that the end of this process brings a sense of closure and healing for the families and survivors, broader Pittsburgh community and the Jewish community.”

UPDATE 12:29 p.m. Statement from Abe Bonowitz, Cofounder of Death Penalty Action

“This guy is already a dead man walking. Now each person impacted by this horrific hate crime is quite likely to have the rug pulled out from under them yet again as the appeals process drags on for years. Sadly, every so often this is going to come up in the news, reopening wounds repeatedly for at least a decade or two. Worse, however, is that instead of fading to obscurity, this racist anti-Semitic terrorist gains notoriety as a martyr for others who think like he does.”

UPDATE 12:27 p.m. Statement from the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon

“It is with great appreciation and respect that the family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon wholeheartedly expresses our extreme gratitude to the entire jury for their service during this very long and arduous trial. In the course of performing their civic duty, they unselfishly endured great personal sacrifice, time away from family, friends, and work; as well as being disconnected from many everyday activities. They patiently and very attentively listened to all of the testimony and scrutinized the voluminous amount of evidence presented throughout the entire trial. We fully respect their verdict and decisions.”

UPDATE 12:20 p.m. Statement from the Malinger/Wedner Family

“We thank the jury for their hard work and determination while upholding the law. We know the evidence has not been easy to see or hear, and we will never be able to thank them enough for their poise and professionalism. Although we will never attain closure from the loss of our beloved Rose Mallinger, we now feel a measure of justice has been served. This sentence is a testament to our justice system and a message to all that this type of heinous act will not be tolerated. Returning a sentence of death is not a decision that comes easy, but we must hold accountable those who wish to commit such terrible acts of antisemitism, hate, and violence.

We thank the prosecutors and their staff for all their hard work and preparation leading up to and during the trial. We are grateful to the Court for their diligence and thoroughness. We also thank the courageous witnesses and family members, the members of local law enforcement and the FBI for their testimony and bravery, and the government experts who all contributed to justice being served. Lastly, to those who provided support during the duration of this trial, including local businesses who donated lunches and the volunteers who delivered them, and people who sent snacks, children’s letters and artwork, we truly felt the love and support of the community. Words cannot describe how much it means to us.

To all the advocates, clergy, community leaders, and leaders of all three congregations, thank you for the long hours and days you have put into supporting us during this difficult time. We especially want to thank the 10.27 Healing Partnership for going above and beyond in providing support. We can never thank you enough for all you have done for us over the last four-plus years.

May we always remember those who were taken too soon - Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Daniel Stein, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Irving Younger, Melvin Wax, and Rose Mallinger. May their memories be for a blessing.”

UPDATE 12:15 p.m. World Jewish Congress statement

Immediately after the verdict was read, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, released a statement calling the verdict a measure of justice.

“The jury’s decision is a stark reminder to remain vigilant about countering antisemitism, wherever it may hide. I call on American leaders to amplify their efforts to protect Jewish communities across the country so that such a tragedy never again takes place.

“May the survivors of the attack and the victims’ families find some comfort from the jury’s decision and may the memory of the 11 people killed be for a blessing” the statement read in part.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m. Dan Mead speaks with Channel 11

Dan Mead, one of the first responding officers on the day of the shooting, spoke to Channel 11 before the verdict was read in court.

“My thoughts go to these families that have been down there every day. I don’t know if it will bring them much, but maybe a sense of relief to have this behind them. And move on,” he said.

Mead wouldn’t say what he hoped to see happen, instead saying “whatever the jury decides is what we will live with and move on.”

“Our own feeling is one thing, but that jury sat down there and heard everything. I’m behind everything they decide,” Mead said.

Previous Coverage >>> Police officer wounded in Tree of Life shooting shares his story two years later

Immediately after the verdict was read, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, released a statement calling the verdict a measure of justice.

“The jury’s decision is a stark reminder to remain vigilant about countering antisemitism, wherever it may hide. I call on American leaders to amplify their efforts to protect Jewish communities across the country so that such a tragedy never again takes place.

“May the survivors of the attack and the victims’ families find some comfort from the jury’s decision and may the memory of the 11 people killed be for a blessing” the statement read in part.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health effects from the trial, go to 1027healingpartnership.org to find help resources. As always, call 911 to report threats.

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