Synagogue shooter, John Earnest, faces life in prison after pleading guilty to killing one after shooting up a synagogue during Passover in April 2019
The defendant also injured the rabbi, a girl, 8, and her uncle who was visiting from Isreal before fleeing after his gun jammed
While driving he cops to tell them he was the shooter, which he deed because: ‘Jewish people are destroying the white race’
As per his plea arrangement Earnest, 22, will be sentenced to life in prison on murder, attempted murder and hate crime charges
He will also receive an additional plus 137 years to life, for the shooting, in a California state prison
Federal case continues as prosecutors mull pursuing the death penalty
A California man who opened fire at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in 2019 in Poway, California, will spend the rest of his life in prison after changing his plea to guilty on Tuesday to charges of murder and attempted murder in the shooting.
John T. Earnest, 22, a nursing student, walked into the house of worship near San Diego with a rifle and shot those celebrating Passover on April 27, 2019, killing Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and wounding the rabbi and an eight-year-old girl and her uncle.
Earnest avoids a possible death penalty from the state with his guilty plea in San Diego Superior Court, but federal prosecutors have until Aug. 30 to decide whether or not to pursue the death penalty.
Prosecutors introduced this Video of the gunman armed with a rifle entering the Synagogue and start shooting the people
According to the terms of his plea arrangement, 22-year-old Earnest is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 30 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 137 years to life, for the shooting.
The defendant also pled guilty to an arson charge for setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019. He previously admitted to both the shooting and the mosque fire in an online open letter in which he espoused flagrant anti-Semitic sentiments and a need to protect the “European race.”
Confirming the expected sentence, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office said Earnest would serve the life sentence without the possibility of parole in state prison, NBC News reports.
“While we reserved the option of trying this as a death penalty case, life in prison without the possibility of parole for the defendant is an appropriate resolution to this violent hate crime, and we hope it brings a measure of justice and closure to the victims, their families, friends and the wider community,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Along with murder and attempted murder, Earnest was also charged federally with more than 100 criminal counts, most of which are hate crime charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 30. Earnest allegedly burst into the synagogue on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday that celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on a crowd of about 100. Earnest fled when the rifle jammed, according to authorities and witnesses, avoiding an Army veteran and an off-duty Border Patrol agent who pursued him. He called 911 to report the shooting and told police that Jewish people were ‘destroying the white race.’ He surrendered a short time later.
Among those wounded, Gilbert-Kaye, a founding member of the congregation, would not survive her injuries.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was shot in the hands, while Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz suffered shrapnel wounds.
An online screed by a person identifying himself as John Earnest and published shortly before the attack spewed hatred toward Jews and praised the perpetrators of attacks on mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people in March 2019 and at the Tree of Life synagogue that left 11 dead on October 2018 in Pittsburgh.
Earnest frequented 8chan, a dark corner of the web people often post extremist, racist and violent views. ‘I’ve only been lurking here for a year and half, yet what I’ve learned here is priceless. It’s been an honor,’ he wrote. Earnest, who evidently intended to livestream the attack, said he had planned the attack for four weeks. ‘If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised,’ Earnest wrote. The FBI said it got tips about a social media post threatening violence against Jews about five minutes before the 11:30am attack.
The tips that came into the FBI website and hotline included a link to the anonymous post but did not offer specific information about its author or the location of the threat. The bureau said employees immediately tried to determine the source, but the shooting occurred before they could establish the identity of the author.
Earnest’s parents said their son and five siblings were raised in a family that ‘rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.’ ‘To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,’ the parents said during a 2019 press conference. ‘Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.’ The parents, who are cooperating with investigators, refused to provide legal representation to their son, and he was represented by a public defender. Seemingly unfazed by the rejection, at his first trial appearance on April 30, 2019, Earnest appeared emotionless and only said ‘yes,’ to waive his right to a speedy preliminary hearing. With his federal case looming, Earnest submitted a conditional plea agreement on June 4, to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California,
The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8.