California synagogue shooting due in court Tuesday — faces murder, hate crime charges
The 19-year-old accused gunman in a deadly California synagogue shooting is due in a San Diego court on Tuesday for arraignment in Saturday’s attack, with officials adding a hate crime to his offences.
John Earnest faces one count of murder, with a hate crime added as a special circumstance, as well as three counts of attempted murder and one count of arson, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office said on Monday.
“We offer our condolences for the loss of a precious life and the violence that fell upon members of the Jewish congregation, gathered to celebrate the end of Passover,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement.
Law enforcement officers are working around the clock on the case, she said.
Saturday’s attack on Chabad of Poway synagogue in suburban San Diego happened six months to the day after 11 worshippers were shot to death at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest attack ever on American Jewry.
Earnest, who is being held without bail, appears to have written an online manifesto in which he also claimed responsibility for a pre-dawn arson attack at a nearby mosque last month and professed inspiration from the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people in March.
Police and the FBI are still investigating a motive for the shooting that killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, a congregant, and wounded three others.
A funeral was held at the synagogue on Monday for Gilbert-Kaye, one of its founding members, and she was remembered as a deeply caring member of the community.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, one of three people who were wounded, losing his right index finger in the shooting, presided over the memorial service.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Earnest has no prior criminal record. If convicted, Earnest faces life in prison without parole or the death penalty, the district attorney’s office said.
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