Posted: September 7, 2001
A Pittsburgh man was sentenced to death for each of five murders committed during an anti-Semitic and racist shooting spree that also left one person paralyzed.
Richard Baumhammers, 36, a former lawyer who attempted to found an anti-immigrant party, was convicted earlier this year of five counts of first-degree murder and 20 other charges related to the killings and the desecration of two synagogues. His sentencing hearing on Sept. 6 brought to a close one of the most violent racially motivated killing sprees in recent history.
In addition to five death sentences, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning ordered Baumhammers to serve 112 1/2 to 225 years in prison for the underlying charges, which included a concealed weapon charge, reckless endangerment and desecration of religious property.
"This case is more grotesque, vicious and frightening than any case over which I have presided or ever expect to," Judge Manning said at the sentencing.
During the racially motivated shooting rampage on April 28, 2000, Baumhammers killed an Indian man who was in the country on a work visa, a Vietnamese immigrant, a Chinese immigrant, an African-American man and a Jewish woman. Baumhammers also fired shots into two Jewish synagogues and painted a swastika on one of the buildings.
Judge Manning noted that Baumhammers had been exposed to white supremacist hate literature on the Internet prior to committing the crimes. Manning charged that hatemongers are abusing the First Amendment right to free speech.
"Under the rubric of our most cherished and fundamental right, the purveyors of racism and hate have gained access to our children, the socially and economically deprived, and the mentally disturbed, the weakest among us," Manning said. "This is what the Internet has spawned. This is the new terrorism in America, not organized on a massive scale from outside our borders."