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A jury on Wednesday sentenced the man who gunned down 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to death, nearly five years after the attack.
The shooter, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with company policy, was found guilty in June of all 63 counts he was facing, including 11 counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.
The jury’s unanimous decision was announced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Colville, who presided over the trial, which took place in downtown Pittsburgh. The judge will officially sentence the shooter to death later this week.
The victims were from three Jewish congregations who gathered at the Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, 2018. Two other worshipers and five police officers were also wounded by the gunman, who unloaded a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and three Glock .357 handguns during his attack.
Victims of the shooting were: Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger.
The shooting is considered by authorities to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
“I hope that today’s sentencing decision in the synagogue shooting case marks a step forward toward healing for our community,” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said after the verdict was announced. “I hope that we can use this decision to start a new chapter that uplifts and protects our city’s Jewish community.”
Attorneys representing the shooter asked for a life sentence if he pleaded guilty, but prosecutors, with the support of most of the victims’ families, refused and took the case to trial to pursue the death penalty. The shooter’s lawyers also argued that he was impaired by mental illness and a delusional belief system took over his thinking, dictating that he had to kill Jews to stop a genocide of white people, the Associated Press reported.
“He turned this place of worship into an exhibit in his criminal trial,” U.S. Attorney Eric Olshan said while arguing for jurors to recommend the death penalty, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette.
A criminal complaint showed that the man told authorities he intentionally targeted the synagogue because he hoped to kill Jewish people. The shooter’s defense attorneys acknowledged that he had done the shooting but asked jurors to “scrutinize his intent.”
Zach Jewell contributed to this report.