Poway synagogue shooter pleads guilty to all 113 federal charges filed against him


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 others pleaded guilty Friday to all 113 federal charges filed against him, and is slated to be sentenced in both state and federal courts later this year for the deadly attack.

John Timothy Earnest, 22, admitted to the April 27, 2019, shooting, in which 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed after being shot twice 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.

Surveillance footage from the date of the shooting appears to show the gunman’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.

The former Rancho Penasquitos resident and Cal State San Marcos nursing student previously pleaded guilty to murder and other state charges in connection with the shooting.

Earnest also pleaded guilty in both cases to setting fire to the Dar- ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019. According to the plea agreement, seven missionaries were asleep inside the mosque at the time, but were able to extinguish the flames and escape injury.

He faced a potential death penalty in both prosecutions, but through his pleas, will avoid capital punishment.

Earnest is 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. Federal prosecutors and Earnest are jointly seeking a federal prison term of life in prison, plus 30 years, when he is sentenced Dec. 28 in San Diego federal court.

As part of his pleas in both prosecutions, Earnest admitted that he specifically targeted the Chabad victims because they were Jewish.

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.

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