The alleged gunman who killed at least 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue took to social media with a chilling post just five minutes before the attack.
Robert Bowers, 46, shared a haunting message of intent on social media site Gab.com at 9.49am criticising a Jewish organisation which helps refugees.
“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” he wrote.
Just moments later, he allegedly shot dead 11 people at the Tree of Life congregation in the suburb of Squirrel Hill, injuring a further six. It is one of the deadliest attacks on Jews in US history.
The post was the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic messages on Bowers’ profile.
Gab, similar to Twitter, said it has suspended the alleged gunman’s account, backed up the content and notified the FBI.
Gab says its mission is to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people. The social media site is popular with far-right extremists, according to AP.
Shooter’s actions “worst of humanity”
US attorney for western Pennsylvania Scott Brady told a news conference that charges could be filed later on Saturday against Pittsburgh resident Bowers.
“The actions of Robert Bowers represent the worst of humanity. We are dedicating the entire resources of my office to this federal hate crime investigation and prosecution,” Brady said.
The US Department of Justice will file hate crime and other criminal charges against Bowers that could lead to the death penalty, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
FBI special agent Bob Jones said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the probe into the attack, believed Bowers was acting alone, adding: “We have no knowledge that he was known to law enforcement before today.”
KDKA television cited police sources as saying Bowers walked into the building and yelled “All Jews must die.
Paypal’s response to controversial social media site
The founder and CEO of the social media site Gab.com has posted that PayPal has banned his site from using the online payment service.
PayPal spokesman Justin Higgs confirmed it canceled the Gab’s account.
“The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions. When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action,” Higgs said.
– With AP and Reuters