Chabad of Poway Shooting

Poway Synagogue Shooter Gets Second Life Sentence in San Diego Federal Court

A young man who carried out a hate-motivated shooting at the Chabad of Poway that killed one woman and injured three other people was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, plus 30 years

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What to Know

  • U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia opted to run the shooter's federal life sentence consecutively with the state sentence
  • Battaglia referenced government sentencing documents indicating that a consecutive sentence would be "merely symbolic," but said, "Hate is something that has to be addressed and must be held up as an example to all that it will not be tolerated."
  • The shooter was also sentenced earlier this year to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the state's case against him following his pleas to murder, attempted murder and arson counts, sparing him a potential death sentence. He later pleaded guilty in the federal case to 113 federal counts related to hate crimes, civil rights and weapons violations

A young man who carried out a hate-motivated shooting at the Chabad of Poway that killed one woman and injured three other people was sentenced by a San Diego federal judge Tuesday to life in prison, plus 30 years

John Earnest, 22, pleaded guilty in parallel state and federal prosecutions for the April 27, 2019, shooting, as well as for setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido about a month prior to the shooting.

The shooter was sentenced in San Diego Superior Court earlier this year to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder and arson counts, sparing him a potential death sentence.

In the federal case, prosecutors and Earnest are jointly seeking a term of life in prison, plus 30 years following his pleas to 113 federal charges.

Prosecutors said 54 people were inside the synagogue when the shooter opened fire on the last day of Passover.

Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, was shot in the synagogue's lobby and died of her injuries. The congregation's rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, lost a finger, while two others -- Almog Peretz and his then-8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan -- were also injured.

The shooter was chased out of the synagogue by several congregants, then escaped in his car. He drove a short distance away and called 911, confessing that he had "just shot up a synagogue."

In an online open letter posted shortly before the shooting, the former Cal State San Marcos studnet espoused flagrant anti-Semitic sentiments, a need to protect the "European race," and wrote, "I can only kill so many Jews" and "I only wish I killed more."

In the arson incident, seven missionaries were asleep inside the Dar- ul-Arqam Mosque at the time, but were able to extinguish the flames and escape injury. Graffiti left outside the mosque paid tribute to a white supremacist who shot and killed more than 50 people in New Zealand earlier that month.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that in a manifesto he posted online shortly before the shooting, he wrote, "I can only kill so many Jews" and "I only wish I killed more."

The shooting triggered a series of lawsuits from the victims of the shooting against Earnest, the Chabad itself, the gun store that sold Earnest the weapon and gun manufacturers.

In court papers, his defense attorneys request that he be housed in California, so that the former Rancho Penasquitos resident can be more easily visited by his family, which his attorneys said "can ultimately help him continue the path of reconciliation and redemption."

For the first time we're seeing exactly how the Poway Synagogue shooting unfolded, and hearing the moments the accused shooter turned himself in. NBC 7's Danny Freeman walks us through it all.

The attorneys wrote that he is remorseful and has "condemned his own actions in this case."

The defense sentencing memorandum states that the shooter was "on course to lead a productive, meaningful, and law-abiding life" prior to "his rapid online radicalization."

The document states, "The online world that John Earnest looked to for these self-identifying answers ultimately consumed him, leading to this tragic end."

Aftermath of the Poway Synagogue Shooting

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