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California gunman pleads guilty to hate crimes in synagogue murder, mosque arson By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: This is a makeshift monument that was placed at the Congregation Chabad synagogue, Poway, California. The incident occurred on April 27th, 2019. REUTERS/John Gastaldo

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A man accused of killing one worshiper and wounding three others in a shooting spree inside a California synagogue about a month after setting fire to a nearby mosque pleaded guilty on Friday to federal hate crimes contained in a 113-count indictment.

According to a joint statement by the U.S. Department of Justice and John T. Earnest’s attorneys, the government will recommend that Earnest receive a lifetime sentence in prison upon his sentencing on December 28.

Earnest (now 22) was taken into custody shortly after opening fire on the Chabad of Poway synagogue North of San Diego during Sabbath prayer on the final day of the Jewish Passover holiday. He was just 19 when he did it.

Lori Gilbert Kaye (60-year-old) was the victim of the attack. She was followed by three other victims, one being the Rabbi. He was wounded in the hand.

An ex-Army sergeant was called to chase the gunman. The suspect fled in his assault-style rifle, which had apparently jammed. A U.S. Border Patrol agent on duty shot at the car but failed to see the attacker. Earnest was soon stopped by police and turned himself in.

Later, authorities identified Earnest to be the author of the rambling and violently antisemitic anti-Muslim manifesto that was posted online under his name.

It claimed that Earnest was the author of a predawn arson attack on the Islamic Center of Escondido a month prior. He also said that his inspiration came from the New Zealand gunman who had killed 50 Muslims in two New Zealand mosques around the same time.

According to authorities, Earnest entered the synagogue carrying a fully loaded weapon and five extra magazines.

In a statement, Lisa Monaco, Deputy U.S. attorney general said that hate-fuelled violence has no place in American society.

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