Why Jewish Allegheny General president spoke to synagogue shooting suspect at hospital

After allegedly killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pa., on Oct. 27, the shooting suspect was taken to Pittsburgh-based Allegheny General Hospital to receive treatment for injuries sustained during the incident. While there, he was visited by the hospital's president, Jeff Cohen, MD, a Jewish physician with ties to the synagogue and local community, according to ABC News.

While in custody and receiving medical treatment at Allegheny General, Robert Bowers, 46, allegedly told a SWAT officer he wanted all Jews to die and that Jewish people "were committing genocide to his people," according to the police criminal complaint obtained by CNN.

Dr. Cohen, who lives down the street from the synagogue, told ABC News he heard the gunshots from the mass shooting inside the temple. He told the television station he went to visit Mr. Bowers, 46, while he was being treated at Allegheny General.

"I stopped to see him, I just asked him how he was doing. Was he in pain, and he said no, he was fine," Dr. Cohen told ABC News. "He asked me who I was. I said, 'I'm Dr. Cohen; I'm the president of the hospital.' I turned around and left."

"I thought it was important to at least talk to him and meet him," Dr. Cohen said. "You can't on one hand say we should talk to each other, and then I don't talk to him. So you lead by example and I'm the leader of the hospital and I have a powerful voice in the community."

Dr. Cohen said two other Jewish individuals were part of Mr. Bowers' care team while he received treatment at the hospital: a nurse and a physician.

"We have a very simple mission at [Allegheny General Hospital] and I imagine it's exactly the same at the other hospitals in the area: We're here to take care sick people. We're not here to judge you," he said. "We're not here to ask do you have insurance or do you not have insurance. We're here to take care of people that need our help."

Mr. Bowers entered the synagogue Oct. 27 armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and three handguns, CBS News reports. The incident lasted roughly 20 minutes, during which 11 people were killed and at least six were injured. Mr. Bowers eventually surrendered himself to police.

Among the 11 killed was Jerry Rabinowitz, MD, a 66-year-old primary care physician from Edgewood Borough, Pa., who was affiliated with Pittsburgh-based UPMC.

Mr. Bowers faces 29 charges, including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts relating to two hate crimes, according to CNN.

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