Gunman in California Synagogue Shooting Is Sentenced to Life in Prison

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In a plea woody that spared him the decease penalty, John T. Earnest had admitted to sidesplitting a pistillate and injuring 3 others astatine a synagogue connected the past time of Passover successful 2019.

John T. Earnest astatine  a preliminary proceeding  astatine  Superior Court successful  San Diego successful  2019.
Credit...Pool photograph by John Gibbins

Sept. 30, 2021Updated 4:48 p.m. ET

The antheral who opened occurrence successful a synagogue northbound of San Diego successful 2019, sidesplitting a 60-year-old pistillate and injuring 3 others during the Jewish vacation of Passover, was sentenced connected Thursday to beingness successful situation without the anticipation of parole.

In a woody that spared him the decease penalty, the man, John T. Earnest of San Diego, pleaded blameworthy successful July to murder, attempted execution and a firearms complaint successful the onslaught astatine the Chabad of Poway synagogue successful Poway, Calif., connected April 27, 2019. He besides pleaded blameworthy to arson for mounting occurrence to a mosque.

At a proceeding successful Superior Court successful San Diego connected Thursday, Judge Peter Deddeh work the sentence, which besides included beingness presumption with parole for firearms, aft affectional grounds from relatives of the victims and from radical who witnessed the synagogue attack.

They addressed Mr. Earnest, 22, who had been instructed to beryllium astatine a array successful beforehand of them with his backmost to them.

Many described their ain injuries, oregon recalled their memories of Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, who was killed successful the shooting arsenic she stood successful the lobby of the synagogue greeting different worshipers.

One idiosyncratic who was astatine the synagogue that time described seeing Ms. Gilbert Kaye connected the level aft she was shot, arsenic her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, gave her archetypal aid.

Another recalled trying to pursuit Mr. Earnest extracurricular aft helium opened fire. The antheral said helium was inspired by the memories of immoderate of his relatives during the Holocaust and had promised himself that helium would enactment up a combat if idiosyncratic tried to termination him due to the fact that helium is Jewish.

One by one, they addressed Mr. Earnest’s unmoving back, asking however idiosyncratic his property had acquired truthful overmuch hatred for Jews, oregon wondering however helium had carried connected with the shooting contempt truthful galore moments — arsenic helium equipped himself, for instance, and arsenic helium walked into the gathering — erstwhile helium could person changed his mind.

According to the authorities, Mr. Earnest entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue, astir 25 miles northbound of San Diego, and yelled antisemitic slurs astatine the 40 to 60 radical there, screaming that Jews were ruining the world.

He opened occurrence with an AR-15-style rifle, sidesplitting Ms. Gilbert Kaye. Among those injured were Yisroel Goldstein, a rabbi who was changeable successful some hands and mislaid an scale finger; an 8-year-old girl; and her 34-year-old uncle.

Ms. Gilbert Kaye’s daughter, Hannah Kaye, was the past to talk astatine the proceeding connected Thursday. She went to the podium, her shoulders shuddering successful grief, and opened a laptop to work a connection astir her parent and the relationship and emotion they shared.

Her parent had taught her gratitude, she said earlier thanking prosecutors, medics and investigators. She past said that, due to the fact that determination was nary trial, she was grateful for the hearing, due to the fact that it gave her a accidental to code her mother’s killer.


Credit...Denis Poroy/Associated Press

Speaking done tears, Ms. Kaye recalled however she and her mother, whom she described arsenic her champion friend, had hugged astatine location earlier going to the synagogue, wherever Ms. Gilbert Kaye was to accidental a supplication of remembrance for her ain mother, who had precocious died.

They walked up the steps together, the aforesaid steps Mr. Earnest would soon climb, she recalled, and past they parted. Ms. Kaye sat down, and her parent stayed successful the lobby, she said.

Then determination was the dependable of gunfire.

“Suddenly, successful an instant, the world virtually shifted,” Ms. Kaye testified, and the “taste of gunpowder entered my mouth.”

She thought of her mother, knowing “she was truthful exposed retired determination successful the hallway.” She past saw her parent connected the floor, her begetter trying to revive her. Sitting adjacent to her mother, she held her hand, and told her she loved her.

Reaching the extremity of her statement, Ms. Kaye opened a supplication book. Others successful the courtroom rose, and they recited the Kaddish, the Jewish supplication for the dormant and 1 of the faith’s astir ineffable rituals.

Mr. Earnest pleaded blameworthy connected Sept. 17 to a 113-count national indictment, admitting that helium had opened occurrence successful the Poway synagogue and acceptable occurrence to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque successful Escondido, Calif., successful March 2019 due to the fact that helium wanted to termination Jews and Muslims, prosecutors said. Seven missionaries were dormant successful the mosque astatine the time, but nary 1 was injured.

He is acceptable to beryllium sentenced connected those charges successful December, and national prosecutors said they planned to urge a beingness condemnation followed by 30 years successful prison.

Federal prosecutors said successful their connection that Mr. Earnest drove to the synagogue aft respective weeks of readying and entered the gathering wherever members of the congregation were gathered for worship, equipped with a firearm that was afloat loaded with a 10-round magazine.

He wore a rig holding 5 magazines, each loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition, and opened fire, prosecutors said.

After helium emptied the archetypal magazine, congregants rushed him. He fled successful his car and called 911, saying helium had “just changeable up a synagogue,” and was arrested.

Investigators recovered a manifesto that Mr. Earnest had posted online soon earlier the attack. It included antisemitic and anti-Muslim statements, and said helium was inspired by the Tree of Life synagogue shooting successful Pittsburgh, successful which a gunman equipped with an AR-15-style firearm killed 11 radical successful October 2018.

He was besides inspired by the shootings astatine 2 mosques successful New Zealand, prosecutors said.

The American Jewish Committee, a Jewish advocacy organization, said successful a connection connected Twitter that Ms. Gilbert Kaye’s representation would “inspire america to combat antisemitism wherever it exists.”

In effect to the synagogue shooting, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed a measure into law past week that requires weapon buyers nether 21 to person a valid hunting license. The law, which goes into effect successful 2025, volition adjacent a loophole that allowed Mr. Earnest to acquisition an battle firearm with an invalid license.

A California justice ruled successful July that the victims of the shooting would beryllium allowed to writer the rifle’s manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, and the weapon store wherever Mr. Earnest bought the weapon.

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