Suspected Poway synagogue shooter purchased gun at local store

SAN DIEGO -- Search warrants unsealed at the request of FOX 5 and other local news organizations are revealing new details about the Poway synagogue shooting.

The suspected gunman John T. Earnest, a then-19-year-old Rancho Penasquitos man, purchased a gun from a shop in San Diego, the more than 380 pages of court documents revealed.

Staff at San Diego Guns on Mission Gorge Road confirmed they made the sale to Earnest, but didn't provide further details. While you must be 21 to buy a gun in California, you can buy a rifle if you have a hunter's license and are above the age of 18. The documents imply Earnest had such a permit.

The new information comes after a San Diego County Superior Court judge ordered 17 search warrants unsealed in the case. Presiding Judge Peter C. Deddeh ruled there was no legal cause to keep records sealed in relation to the investigation into Earnest.

He is being prosecuted in federal and state court in separate but simultaneous cases, but the collective media organizations noted in their motion filed last month that federal authorities have unsealed two search warrants related to the investigation, while state courts had not.

“The Poway shooting and the resulting criminal investigation and case are matters of significant public interest,” the motion reads. “Releasing the records would add substantial transparency to this important public matter.”

The motion notes Earnest’s alleged racially motivated intentions for committing the shooting as a key basis for the request.

“The nature of the crimes at issue here, and their profound and sustained impact on the victims, families, and loved ones also calls out for a transparent process to ensure confidence in the judicial process and eventual outcome, and to provide a therapeutic value to the community through an open judicial process that instills confidence that justice is being served,” the motions reads.

Earnest faces a possible death sentence in both cases if convicted. Neither office has made a decision regarding whether to pursue the death penalty.

He’s charged with murder, attempted murder and arson in the state’s case, in addition to more than 100 federal counts related to hate crimes.

Earnest is accused of carrying out the shooting on the last day of Passover, killing Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, who was shot twice in the synagogue’s foyer and died at a hospital.

The congregation’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, 57, lost a finger in the shooting. Two other people — Almog Peretz, 34, and his 8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan — were also injured.

Affidavits for search warrants 60576-60581

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