20-year anniversary of Baumhammers’ racially motivated killing spree – Ellwood City Ledger

Posted: April 29, 2020 at 3:41 am

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Tuesday marked the 20-year anniversary of Richard Baumhammers, a white man, murdering five people in Allegheny and Beaver counties: a Jewish woman, two men of Indian descent, two men of Asian descent and a black man.

Tuesday marked 20 years since a man murdered five people in a racially motivated series of shootings in Allegheny and Beaver counties.

Richard Baumhammers, now 54, of Mount Lebanon, was an unemployed immigration lawyer when he went on a shooting rampage on April 28, 2000.

Baumhammers, a white man, shot his neighbor Anita Gordon, a 63-year-old Jewish woman from Mount Lebanon, and set her house on fire. He then drove to the Beth El Congregation of South Hills, a synagogue Gordon attended, and shot out the front windows and painted red swastikas on the building.

Afterward, he drove to a grocery store in Scott Township and shot and killed 31-year-old Anil Thakur, an Indian man, and shot 24-year-old Sandip Patel, who is also of Indian descent. Patel became paralyzed and died about seven years later.

Baumhammers then drove to a Chinese restaurant in Robinson Township, where he shot and killed 34-year-old Ji-Ye Sun, a native of China, and 27-year-old Thao Pham, who left Vietnam in 1979. He finished his shooting spree by driving to C.S. Kim School of Karate in Center Township, where he shot 22-year-old Garry Lee, a black man.

He was arrested at gunpoint as he entered Ambridge. It is believed his next target was Beth Samuel Synagogue in Ambridge.

It took a jury less than three hours to sentence Baumhammers to death.

Baumhammers showed no expression as the verdict was read. He was reportedly living with his parents at the time of the shootings and was undergoing psychiatric care.

His lawyers did not argue whether Baumhammers killed his victims, but instead said he lacked the mental ability to tell right from wrong. Psychiatrists said Baumhammers suffered from a delusional disorder of the persecutional type, as he believed the FBI and CIA were monitoring him and that the family house cleaner was a spy.

Baumhammers was supposedly on prescription medication, but tests later found he had not been taking his medicine.

Allegheny County Deputy Assistant District Attorney Ed Borkowski told jurors during the trial that Baumhammers was not insane, saying he was anti-Semitic and racist, noting that he read racist and anti-immigration literature and saw Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler as heroes.

Baumhammers lawyers lost an insanity defense and he was given the death penalty for five murders.

Then newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf on Feb. 13, 2015, declared a moratorium on Pennsylvanias death penalty, causing controversy over cases like Baumhammers.

Center Township Police Chief Barry Kramer, who was the first officer on the scene where Baumhammer murdered Lee, wrote a letter to Wolf asking the governor to allow capital punishment for egregious crimes, according to the letter.

There is fear that some death-row convictions have been biased due to race/ethnicity or socio-economic status; this is certainly of concern, the letter read. However; we believe that to completely eliminate the death penalty for those who have executed certain egregious crimes where guilt is clear would be irrational. Baumhammers 90-plus-minute, eye-witnessed rampage was fueled by racial and ethnic hatred from a man who came from a quiet, upscale, suburban community. Baumhammers was a white, well-educated man, was not poor or economically depressed, and from all aspects apparently had every opportunity for a successful life. In this case of cold-blooded murder of six innocent Pennsylvanians, we believe the death penalty is warranted.

Additional signatures attached to the letter included those of state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, House Speaker Mike Turzai, Sens. Camera Bartolotta and Elder Vogel Jr., and Reps. Jarret Gibbons, Jim Christiana, Jim Marshall and Rob Matzie.

Kramer said Wolf never responded to his February 2015 letter.

There is no political agenda, Kramer said, noting that his letter to Wolf wasnt about politics; it was about justice. I understand the governor might want to examine death penalty cases. But there were eyewitnesses to almost all of the murders. Theres no question to whether he committed these crimes.

Baumhammers lost an appeal Nov. 26, 2019, and remains in the State Correctional Institution at Green in Greene County.

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20-year anniversary of Baumhammers' racially motivated killing spree - Ellwood City Ledger

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April 29th, 2020 at 3:41 am

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