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Federal grand jury indicts Robert Bowers on 44 counts, including hate crimes, in synagogue shooting

Federal grand jury indicts Robert Bowers on 44 counts, including hate crimes, in synagogue shooting
This courtroom sketch depicts Robert Gregory Bowers, who was wounded in a gun battle with police, as he appeared in a wheelchair at federal court Oct. 29 in Pittsburgh. (Dave Klug / Associated Press)

The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday, four days after 11 people were killed and six wounded in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

The indictment charges Robert Bowers with 44 counts, including hate crimes. Federal prosecutors have previously indicated they plan to seek the death penalty. The charges were announced on the second day of funerals for the victims.

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"Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims' families, the Jewish community, and our city," U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement. "Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims."

Bowers, a 46-year-old truck driver, remained jailed without bail ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday. Authorities say he raged against Jews during the attack.

Members of Pittsburgh's grief-stricken Jewish community, meanwhile, endured another round of funerals for the congregants who were gunned down in Saturday's rampage.

Melvin Wax, 87, Irving Younger, 69, and Joyce Fienberg, 75, were being laid to rest as part of a weeklong series of services.

"It can't be fixed," Robert Libman said at the funeral of Fienberg, his sister, clutching his chest as he described the pain of losing her. "My sister is dead. My sister was murdered. There was no one I know like her. Pure goodness. ... She was the most tolerant and gentle person that I've ever known."

Her sons, Anthony of Paris and Howard of Vienna, Va., said she spent five years caring for their father as he battled cancer, then after his death a few years ago, devoted more of her time and energy to Tree of Life.

"My mom would be very angry that her funeral wasn't able to be at Tree of Life and that her friends lost Saturday couldn't be here," Howard Fienberg said.

Among those wounded in the attack were four police officers, two of whom remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Two congregants were still in the hospital, one in critical condition.

Hospital officials said the two most seriously injured shooting victims are improving.

A police officer and a congregant remained in intensive care but "are doing much better now," Dr. Donald Yealy, chairman of emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said Wednesday. "I think overall the prognoses are good now. But each of them, in a varying way, will have a different trajectory and likely will require a series of ongoing care."

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