Case Study 2: Domestic Terrorist Attack

Case Study 2: Domestic Terrorist Attack

CRJ 440: Terrorism and Antiterrorism


Domestic terrorism, which is also known as homegrown terrorism, is when a violent attack has been made against civilians or infrastructure of a nation. It could be done by a citizen of that country or a non-citizen. In this case study, we will learn about the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, the persons or groups responsible for the attack, the plan, the target, the purpose, and assistance that was required for this act. The case study will examine the attack and whether or not law enforcement should have, or even could have prevented or identified the activities in question. Additionally, summarization of the attack and summarization of the lessons that were learned will be seen in this case study. A determination will be made whether or not the attackers were successful in their mission or the intended goals and finally if security level has been improved since the incident and what three (3) changes should be implemented.

Describe the persons or groups responsible for the attack:

No groups and persons were responsible but just one man, Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old male, is the gunman who was responsible for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. A type of person who did not seem to have just gone rogue; however, Bowers’ best friend Robert Walters stated that “he was a happy dude” (Rich, L., 2018).

Assess the validity of the motivations/beliefs of the persons or groups responsible for the chosen attack. Indicate both the stated motivations/beliefs of the perpetrators and the statements about the motivations/beliefs of the perpetrators made by law enforcement or government sources:

According to Rich, (2018) states that Walters best friend of Bowers liked the simple things such as beer, hooters, and guns as a collective item. He later started posting on his social media or memes such as anti-Semitic and or anti-immigrant slogans, etc. In addition to many people encouraging this behavior as any social media people would do. One of the motivations that made or make a move like this was where he came across and posted memes about Central Americans moving through the Mexico which harbored immigrants and refugees. Bowers then came across the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a group of people who helps those who are federally approved refugees and post stating “You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us?”. This particular incident was not the motivations/beliefs of the perpetrators that were made by law enforcement or government because it had to do with more so a person racial vendetta.

Describe any known planning for the attack, such as gathering supplies, surveillance of the target, or any outside support/assistance:

Studying and investigating into the case, law enforcement stated that Bowers was already targeting Jews online. He stated to a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) officer that all he wanted was for all the Jews to die. Bowers acted alone, besides his racial comments and posts online and websites, he did a final tape messaging, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics; I’m going in”. He already had his weapons, an assault rifle, and three (3) handguns, believed to be a collection which he had registered guns to his name, 21 in total (Chavez, Grinberg, & McLaughlin., 2018).

Examine the planning activities of the persons or groups responsible for the chosen attack, and determine whether or not law enforcement should or could have been identified and prevented the activities in question:

The attack seemed to be that Bowers just got up, took his weapons, tapped his final message, and went to the Tree of Life synagogue on a shooting spree. This attack gives us a mixed signal only because ironically Bowers already owned many guns, and happened to go on a Saturday where the Jews have their Shabbat morning mass. It may not be any motive but just a hate crime incident. According to National Public Radio, Inc. (2018), states that Bowers was not a known person to law enforcement. However, they are looking into the last few days of activities and social media encounters. The shooting started approximately 9:54 am, and officers were dispatched immediately and were in route by 9:55 am.

There is no way of law enforcement being aware of these types of incidents, however, there are people who are enabling an effective way to approach on how to find and deal with inciting violence on websites. Online websites are being audited and monitored for any political violence and hosting any type of speech in regards to conducting violence.

Summarize the actual attack. Assess the degree to which the attack achieved the intended goals of the perpetrators:

On October 27th, 2018, Robert Bowers went to a Jewish church known as the Tree of Life synagogue and killed many innocent worshipers due to racial hate. Bowers seemed to have a built-in racial issue against many immigrants and refugees, even though they are legally able to reside in the United States. An unthinkable hate crime which not only shook the Jewish community but all over the United States and abroad. The perpetrators intended goal was successful because he made his point known that he hated the Jewish people for helping the people and also being able to stay in the U.S.

Examine the repercussions of the attack, and identify whether or not any security/legislative changes were enacted as a result of the attack. Evaluate the effectiveness of the security/legislative changes that were made in attempts to prevent future attacks. If no security/legislative changes were enacted as a result of the attack, suggest at least three changes that should be made and provide a rationale for your response.

Internet websites are being monitored for any type of hate crime violence, and anyone is putting up posts that may seem like some interventions should take immediately. Security/legislative are making improvements in protecting the people and preventing future attacks by enforcing gun control to start with. The ownership of having firearms and what the motivation of keeping guns are being listed and noted. Hence, why the legislative needs every person buying a gun to make sure that they are registered, which allows to having some control on people who can and should not buy guns. Even then, it seems like the guns are winning as it is controlling the people and gives them the power to take lives (Gottlieb, 2016).

Three ways that can help change is by having gun control revisited, block all posts on websites, including all social media about violence, and hate crimes. Lastly, increasing security everywhere possible.


  • Guns – although many states allowing to have the right to own guns should probably revisit this law. There are too many mass shootings for any state to allow a person to have guns. Perhaps minimize to just one gun and only for their protection at home or per household.
  • Block posts – restrictions must be in place for anyone posting these types of information. Even though people have the right to speak, at the same time, there should be laws to protect racial posts as it is no longer a joke.
  • Law enforcement – having security at schools, churches, major buildings, hospitals, and where ever possible would decrease the chances of anyone just coming and performing a homegrown attack. This would create more protection and more jobs for people.

Summarize the lessons that could be learned from the attack.

The domestic terrorist attack should not be tolerated or excused than any small crimes. Capital punishment is being sentenced or implemented in many states, and Robert Bowers will be facing that same penalty. Lessons learned here is that no homegrown or any type of violence should be taken lightly and the people have to know that all these small jokes on social media or posts are not funny. This encourages those who are mentally unstable and those who hate the people who are not of the same color or race.


Chavez, N., Grinberg, E., & McLaughlin, E. C. (2018). Pittsburgh synagogue gunman said he

wanted all the Jews to die, criminal complaint says. Retrieved from

Gottlieb, E. (2016). The Guns That Won. New Republic247(4), 58–63. Retrieved from

National Public Radio, Inc., (2018). Suspect Charged With 29 Federal Counts In Pittsburgh

Synagogue Massacre. National. Retrieved from synagogue

Rich, L., (2018). How Robert Bowers went from conservative to white nationalist. Pittsburgh

Post-Gazette. Retrieve from

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