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November 04, 2018

Historical Patterns at Tree of Life & Squirrel Hill

The shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue was Robert Bowers, 46, of suburban Baldwin, just outside of Pittsburgh. His own father's life included crime in Squirrel Hill and gun violence.

  • In 1979 Randall Bowers, the father of the shooter, followed a woman out of a pizza shop, forced his way into her car, and had her drive them to Squirrel Hill. He threatened and raped the woman but Squirrel Hill residents intervened, chasing and holding Randall Bowers until police arrived. He was found guilty, and was out on bail awaiting his sentencing.

    He was convinced he was going to be sent to prison. Randall Powers took his own life at the Tionesta Dam.

    It seems like not too big a reach to connect the father's experience in Squirrel Hill to his son's hatred, but it is only speculation.

    2018 wasn't the congregation's first brush with an attack. According to the Post-Gazette, in 1935 the Tree of Life Synagogue (located then in Oakland) was attacked by vandals.

    (click image to embiggen)

    My conclusion is that hatred is an old evil, often passed down in families - which really isn't one of the theoretical functions of a family, but it does seem to be a real one.


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