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Victims begin testifying in Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting trial

The prosecution submitted into evidence a prayer book with a bullet hole.

Local residents knitted and hung Stars of David along the Murray Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Local residents knitted and hung Stars of David along the Murray Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

“My brother’s in there—you have to get my brother,” testified Carol Black, a survivor of the massacre at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue, to police after escaping the bloodshed.

Her brother, Richard Gottfried, was among the 11 Jewish worshippers murdered on Oct. 27, 2018.

The second day of testimony in the trial of gunman Robert Bowers took place on May 31, when numerous witnesses revealed the details of their traumatic experience.

Daniel Leger said that he ran towards the sound of the gunfire, hoping that he could use his training as a nurse to help others. He was shot in the abdomen and fell onto the stairs, unable to move. Leger reported that he heard the shooter nearby, talking to himself about his ammunition supply.

Believing himself to be dying, Leger began praying. He reflected on his life and prayed for forgiveness from all he had wronged. “I was ready. I was ready to go,” he said. Leger now needs a colostomy bag and has nerve damage.

Barry Werber described calling 911 on his cell phone and struggling to keep quiet as he hid. He told the 911 operator of the killer: “I saw him across in front of the room I’m in, and he had an automatic weapon.”

The prosecution also entered a chilling piece of evidence: a photo of a prayer book, Siddur Sim Shalom, with a bullet hole.

The synagogue’s rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, said that it is “a witness to the horror of the day,” and “one day when I’m not there, this book tells a story that needs to be told.”

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