Poway synagogue shooter sentenced to second life sentence

Poway synagogue shooter sentenced to second life sentence
Nelvin C. Cepeda/AP

John T. Earnest, who admitted to a shooting at a San Diego area synagogue that killed one and injured three others in 2019, has been sentenced to a second life sentence.

Earnest was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison in federal court on Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to a 113-count indictment that included hate crime and weapons violations, according to a Department of Justice news release. He was previously sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following a plea agreement in state court.

Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed in the shooting on the last day of Passover in 2019 when Earnest, who was 19 at the time and armed with an AR-15 style rifle, entered the crowded Chabad of Poway synagogue and began shooting.

Earnest also admitted to setting fire to a mosque in nearby Escondido just weeks before the shooting.

“The defendant targeted his victims because he hated the Jewish community and Muslim community, hatred that has no place in our society and hatred that will never, never win,” said Randy Grossman, US attorney for the Southern District of California following Tuesday’s hearing. “The defendant and his hatred have been silenced. He will spend the rest of his days and die in prison, while he languishes behind bars.”

Prosecutors noted that a manifesto written by Earnest and posted on the internet shortly before the attack was found during the investigation in which Earnest made many anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim statements, including “I can only kill so many Jews” and “I only wish I killed more.”

“All people in this country should be able to freely exercise their religion without fear of being attacked,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This defendant’s horrific crime was an assault on fundamental principles of our nation. The Justice Department is steadfast in its commitment to confronting unlawful acts of hate and to holding perpetrators of hate-fueled violence accountable.”

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