(KRON/CNN) – As officials try to put together a picture of the alleged synagogue shooter, one focus of the investigation is his social media postings, a federal law enforcement official told CNN. Here’s what we know so far about the suspect Robert Bowers, 46:
He allegedly made anti-Semitic statements after his arrest
The shooter made anti-Jewish comments during the incident, a law enforcement official told CNN. The shooting took place on the same day as Saturday Shabbat services. At the time of the shooting, three different congregations were holding services at the Tree of Life facility.
He has an active license to carry a firearm
Bower has an active license and has made at least six known firearm purchases since 1996, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said.
In one post, he said he “can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered”
Shortly before the shooting, Bowers posted on his Gab account that he “can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Gab is a social media platform that advocates for free speech and puts nearly no restrictions on content. A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that investigators believe this social media posting and others belong to Bowers and that the language on his account matches the suspected motivation behind the shootings.
He railed against a Jewish refugee advocacy group
In that same posting, Bowers wrote HIAS, a Jewish refugee advocacy group, “likes to bring in invaders that kill our people.”
Seventeen days before the attack, Bowers posted web page from HIAS that listed a number of Shabbats that were being held on behalf of refugees. the official said. On that list was a Shabbat address that is less than a mile away from the Tree of Life Synagogue. (The chief executive officer of HIAS, Mark Hetfield, said Bowers is not known to the group.)
His Gab account has frequent anti-Semitic postings
He has reposted a number of posts on his social media accounts that tell Jews to get out, or leave. (In a statement posted online, Gab says they “unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence…Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people.” Gab said it was alerted to the suspect’s profile on their platform, backed up the data, suspended the account, and contacted the FBI.)