Judge orders suspected Poway synagogue shooter to stand trial
A man accused of opening fire in a San Diego-area synagogue, killing a woman and wounding three other people, will stand trial, a judge ruled Friday.
John T. Earnest, 20, will appear in court on Oct. 3 for his arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges stemming from the April 27 shooting in the Chabad of Poway.
He will also be tried on an arson charge for a March 24 blaze at Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque, also known as the Islamic Center of Escondido.
Earnest could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murder as a hate crime. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has not decided whether it will pursue capital punishment.
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Prosecutors allege Earnest entered the synagogue on the last day of Passover and killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye. Kaye was shot twice and died at a hospital.
The congregation’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, 57, lost a finger in the shooting. Almog Peretz, 34, and his 8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan, were also injured.
On Thursday, prosecutors played a 12-minute 911 call of the gunman telling a dispatcher that he’d shot up the synagogue to save white people from Jews.
“They’re destroying our people. I’m trying to show them that we’re not going to go down without a fight,” said the caller on the 911 recording, who identified himself as Earnest. “I’m defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people.”
He said he would not use his weapon on responding officers.
Oscar Stewart, 51, who was present during the shooting with his wife and stepdaughter, said during the hearing that“people were falling over each other. It was chaos.”
He was standing in the back of the synagogue when shots rang out, he said. An Army and Navy veteran who served two tours in Iraq, Stewart said he rushed the gunman and yelled that he was going to kill him in an effort to distract him.
He chased after the fleeing gunman and pulled back when off-duty Border Patrol agent Johnathan Morales, who was working security, fired about five shots at the assailant.
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Earnest was arrested a short time later. He reportedly admitted being behind the shooting and the mosque blaze two weeks earlier.
Authorities said he posted an open letter citing his hatred for Jews and his admiration for a man accused of killing 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques in March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source : Louis Casiano Link