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Poway synagogue shooter pleads guilty to federal charges

California Synagogue Shooter
Posted at 6:29 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 20:17:18-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The young man charged with carrying out a hate-motivated shooting at the Chabad of Poway that killed one woman and injured three other people pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges.

Chabad of Poway shooter John Timothy Earnest, 22, has pleaded guilty to all 113 federal charges filed against him. His sentencing in the federal case has been scheduled for Dec. 28.

John Timothy Earnest, 22, previously pleaded guilty to murder and other state charges in connection with the April 27, 2019, attack, in which 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed after being shot in the synagogue's foyer. Kaye, a longtime member of Chabad of Poway, was at the temple with her husband and daughter to honor her mother, who had recently died.

The congregation's rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, lost a finger in the shooting. Two other people -- Almog Peretz and his then-8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan -- were also injured.

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

The former Rancho Penasquitos resident and Cal State San Marcos nursing student previously faced a potential death penalty in parallel state and federal prosecutions, but through his pleas, will avoid capital punishment in both cases.

He's set to be sentenced later this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 137 years to life, in the state's case.

Surveillance footage from the date of the crime appears to show the shooter's rifle jam or malfunction after he entered the synagogue and began firing. He then fled the scene after being chased out by congregants, drove a short distance away, called police and directed them to his location, where he was arrested.

As part of his plea in the state's prosecution, Earnest admitted that he specifically targeted the victims because they were Jewish.

He also pleaded guilty to an arson charge for setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019.

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.