CA Synagogue Gunman Pleads Guilty to over 100 Federal Hate Crimes

A California man who opened fire at a Poway synagogue in 2019, resulting in the death of one individual and others being wounded, has pleaded guilty to over 100 federal hate crime charges.

“John T. Earnest, 22, earlier this year pleaded guilty to state counts and agreed to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” NBC News reported Friday.

He pleaded guilty to a 113-count hate crimes indictment and admitted he set fire to an Escondido mosque and opened fire in the synagogue because he “wanted to kill Muslims and Jews,” the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, said in a news release on Friday.

The office detailed the initial events:

According to the plea agreement and other court documents, after several weeks of planning, on the morning of April 27, 2019, Earnest drove to the Chabad of Poway synagogue, where members of the congregation were gathered for religious worship. Earnest entered the building armed with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 assault rifle that was fully loaded with a 10-round magazine. He wore a chest rig which contained five additional magazines, each loaded with ten rounds of ammunition. Earnest opened fire, killing one person and injuring three other members of the congregation, including a then 8-year-old child.

After Earnest emptied his initial magazine, several congregants rushed at Earnest. Earnest fled in his car and, shortly after, called 911 and confessed that he had “just shot up a synagogue.” Earnest was apprehended by local law enforcement who found the rifle and additional ammunition in his car.

In 2019, ABC 10 News shared clips of the 911 call:

“According to the terms of the plea agreement, the United States and Earnest will jointly recommend a sentence of life in prison plus 30 years,” the attorney’s office said in the press release.

Breitbart News reported in April 2019 that California had every gun law Democrats pushed on the federal level but none prevented Earnest from opening fire in Congregation Chabad.

“The tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway was shocking for our community,” ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Monique Villegas stated Friday.

“Our condolences go out to the victims and their families who were affected by this horrific act. ATF remains committed to bringing individuals responsible for such acts to justice to ensure everyone can worship safely,” Villegas concluded.

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