When Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting that claimed 11 lives and injured nine other people, was taken to Allegheny General Hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds by police, at least three of the doctors and nurses who took care of him were Jewish. So is the hospital’s president, Jeffrey Cohen, who visited Bowers in his recovery room.
“Isn’t it ironic that somebody who is yelling in the ambulance and in the hospital, ‘I want to kill all the Jews,’ is taken care of by a Jewish nurse and there’s a Jewish hospital president that comes in to check on him afterwards?” Cohen told CNN.
Cohen lives across the street from the Tree of Life, where he is a longtime member, and has deep personal connections with the synagogue. According to Tribune-Review, his mother-in-law attends services “nearly every day.” He knew nine of the people who were killed.
Nonetheless, Cohen and his team treated Bowers as they would any other patient.
“We’re here to take care of sick people, we’re not here to judge you,” Cohen said in an interview with a Pittsburgh TV station. “We’re here to take care of people that need our help.”
The young nurse who immediately attended to Bowers broke down in tears shortly after the treatment.
“The nurse that took care of him, his father is a rabbi in the South Hills,” Cohen told the Pittsburgh Business Times. “He told me he went home that night to his parents’ house and hugged his parents, and I told him that his parents raised a really good kid.”
At one point, Cohen personally checked in with Bowers to ask him how we was doing.
“[Bowers] asked me who I was, I said ‘I’m Dr. Cohen, the president of the hospital,’ ” Cohen told CNN. “And I turned around and left. And the FBI agent that was guarding him said, ‘I don’t know that I could have done that.’ I said, ‘If you were in my shoes, I’m sure you could’ve.’ ”
Bowers was discharged from Allegheny General Hospital on Monday morning and appeared in court in a wheelchair to hear the charges against him: 29 federal counts of hate crimes, violence, and firearm offenses. He may face the death penalty if convicted.
If you think Slate’s election coverage matters…
Support our work: become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus