Author of California synagogue shooting that left one dead, sentenced to life in prison

The Poway Synagogue shooting occurred on April 27, 2019, news that shocked the entire United States.

Photo: SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP / Getty Images

The gunman who opened fire on a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one person and wounded several more in 2019 He was sentenced this Tuesday by a federal court to life imprisonment plus 30 years, This sentence is added to the one already issued by a state judge who had assigned him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

John Timothy Earnest, 22, who killed a woman and wounded three other people in the anti-Semitic attack, pleaded guilty to state and federal charges he faced in the April 27, 2019 shooting against the Poway synagogue and the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque fire in Escondido, California, about a month before the shooting.

Earnest pleaded guilty last September to a federal indictment of 113 counts of hate crimes and weapons-related crimes, among others.

According to court documents, after several weeks of planning, Earnest arrived at Poway’s Chabad synagogue, where members were congregating, and fired a fully loaded AR-15 rifle, hitting four people.

After Earnest emptied the first magazine, several assistants lunged at him forcing him to flee. Earnest soon after called the police and confessed that he “had just shot a synagogue.”

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed in the attack, while the synagogue’s founding rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein; Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 34, were injured in the attack on Poway, a small town of 50,000 inhabitants 30 kilometers north of San Diego (southern California).

The authorities also found an “open letter” signed by Earnest in which he acknowledged his hatred of Jews and promised to defend his “European race.”

He also explained that he made the decision to carry out the shooting in the synagogue after learning of the March 2019 massacre in New Zealand, in which 50 people died and as many were injured when a white supremacist opened fire on those present. in two mosques.

Tuesday’s conviction marks the final chapter in Earnest’s double trial and it is in addition to the life term that was imposed last August in state court.

“All people in this country should be able to freely exercise their religion without fear of attack,” said US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement following today’s sentencing.

“The heinous crime of this defendant was an assault on the fundamental principles of our nation. The Department of Justice remains steadfast in its commitment to confront illicit acts of hate and to hold the perpetrators of hate-fueled violence accountable, ”he added.

The court recommended today that Earnest serve his sentence in federal jail.

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