In July, John T. Earnest, the man who killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye in the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting in April 2019, pled guilty to the charges of murder and attempted murder in a plea agreement that saw him avoid the death penalty.
Mr Earnest, who was nineteen at the time of the shooting, was said to have entered the synagogue with an AR-15 style rifle and opened fire on the 54 congregants inside, killing Ms Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others, including an eight-year-old girl and the congregation’s founder, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost a finger.
During the shooting, Mr Earnest’s rifle jammed, at which point several members of the congregation ran towards him, chasing him out of the synagogue. He was understood to have fled before calling the police himself to confess that he had committed a shooting at a synagogue because he believed that Jews were trying to “destroy all white people,” and was subsequently apprehended approximately two miles from the synagogue.
Mr Earnest also confessed to committing arson at the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in March 2019 “for the purpose of terrorising Muslim worshippers,” it was revealed in a news release from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. Addressing Mr Earnest’s motivation behind the Poway Synagogue shooting, the news release said that Mr Earnest “admitted that he committed those crimes because of his bias and hatred of Jews.”
At yesterday’s sentencing at San Diego’s Superior Court, testimonies from the attack’s victims and witnesses were given before Judge Peter Deddeh read Mr Earnest’s sentence. Mr Earnest’s lawyer stated that Mr Earnest wished to make a statement, though this request was denied by Judge Deddeh who said: “I’m not going to let him use this as a platform to add to his celebrity.”
Mr Earnest is set to be sentenced in December for committing the arson at the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque.