Jewish hospital president pays synagogue shooter a visit to look him in eye; says he’s confused, hears ‘noise’

The president of the hospital where the Pittsburgh mass shooter is being treated could provide “no answers” for the massacre after looking the suspect in the eyes.

“I went to see the shooter and the cops that were guarding him,” Dr. Jeff Cohen told CNN. “You look at him, I wanted to try and understand why did he do this. And I have no answers.”

Cohen, the president of Allegheny General Hospital, is also a member of Tree of Life synagogue where 11 of his fellow congregants were murdered on Saturday.

“I asked him how are you feeling, and he was sort of groggy and said ‘I’m feeling okay.’ And I introduced myself as Dr. Cohen, the president of Allegheny General. And I left,” Cohen recounted.

The doctor lives nearby the synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood and came out of his home after hearing the commotion on Saturday, watching police rush in to save lives and apprehend the suspected killer, Robert Bowers.

“I was standing outside and I saw the first group of police come in. They literally were running down my street right over my shoulder,” he told CNN.

He remarked on the personal aspect of the tragedy.

“The people in that synagogue are is known to me, they’re known to my family. They’re decent people. They’re kind people,” he said. “They’re not a threat to anybody.”

Cohen recalled speaking to Bowers in the hospital room and the surprised reaction from a federal official as he left.

“The FBI agent in charge looked at me and says ‘I don’t know how you did that because I’m not sure I could have,’” Cohen said.

“It’s time for leaders to lead,” he added.

“The gentleman didn’t appear to be a member of the Mensa society,” Cohen noted, describing the shooter.

“He listens to the noise, he hears the noise. The noise was telling him his people were being slaughtered. He thought it was time to rise up and do something,” he said. “He’s completely confused, and the words mean things. The words are leading to people doing things like this.”

Cohen would not discuss the specific nature of Bowers’ injuries but reflected on the “conflicting emotions” of those whose jobs it was to treat him.

“He was treated by our team. They took very good care of him,” he said. “The conflicting emotions of the people who were there, we have one very simple mission at Allegheny: We take care of sick people. We don’t ask questions who they are. We don’t ask questions about their insurance status or whether they can pay. To us they’re patients and it makes it very simple for our staff to do the right job.”

The doctor added how “proud” he was of his team.

“So I will tell you that I’m very proud of them. They did a great job. They answered the bell,” Cohen said. “Isn’t it ironic somebody who’s 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.”

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Frieda Powers


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