Andrea Wedner, who witnessed the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue, tearfully recalled the moment she saw her right arm “get blown open in two places” as the gunman opened fire.
A survivor of the deadly 2018 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh provided emotional testimony on Wednesday, describing the gruesome events that unfolded on that tragic day
Wedner’s 97-year-old mother, Rose Mallinger, was fatally shot beside her, making the incident the deadliest assault on the Jewish community in US history. The prosecution presented Wedner as their final witness in the case against Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the shooting. Bowers, armed with a military-style rifle, stormed into the synagogue and mercilessly targeted worshippers, resulting in the deaths of 11 people and leaving seven others injured, including five police officers. Bowers, a 50-year-old truck driver, faces 63 criminal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religious exercise leading to death.
Following the prosecution’s conclusion, Bowers’ defense team chose not to present a case. Closing arguments and jury deliberations are scheduled for Thursday. If convicted, the trial will move into a lengthy penalty phase, during which the same jury will determine Bowers’ sentence: life imprisonment or the death penalty. The defense, while acknowledging Bowers as the gunman, has focused on saving his life.
The prosecution’s case featured harrowing and heartrending testimony, with Wedner recounting the terror she experienced during the attack
She vividly remembered the sound of gunfire and the sight of the gunman and his weapon. Wedner’s distressing 911 call captured the moment she and her mother were shot, and she later discovered her mother’s lifeless body. As SWAT officers arrived, Wedner bid a final farewell to her mother before escaping. She stood as the sole survivor in her section of the synagogue.
The trial also heard testimony from Pittsburgh SWAT Officer Timothy Matson, who was gravely wounded while responding to the shooting. Matson described the moment he and another officer confronted Bowers, leading to a violent exchange. The courageous officer sustained multiple gunshot wounds, enduring 25 surgeries to repair the extensive damage. Despite the severe injuries, Matson expressed his unwavering resolve, stating that he would willingly face the same danger again.