California synagogue shooter pleads guilty to more than 100 federal hate crimes

Prosecutors to recommend a life sentence plus 30 years for John T. Earnest, who had already pleaded guilty in state court to the 2019 attack.

9/18/2021 5:25:00 AM

The California man who opened fire on a Poway synagogue in a 2019 attack that killed one person and wounded others has pleaded guilty to more than 100 federal hate crime charges.

Prosecutors to recommend a life sentence plus 30 years for John T. Earnest, who had already pleaded guilty in state court to the 2019 attack.

01:51In a plea agreement, Earnest admitted to planning the April 27, 2019, attack for weeks, prosecutors said. He wore what was described as a chest rig with five additional 10-round ammunition magazines.Earnest fired the 10-round magazine in the rifle until it was empty, and he tried to reload it but was unsuccessful as congregants rushed to confront him and then he fled, the FBI has said.

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He also admitted to setting fire to a mosque in Escondido, California, in March 2019. No one was hurt.Sentencing in the state case has been scheduled for Sept. 30. Online court records did not appear to show when sentencing is scheduled in the federal case.

The state plea agreement avoided the possibility of the death penalty. The agreed-upon sentence in that case is life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 121 years, the district attorney has said.The federal crimes carried the possibility of a death sentence, but on Aug. 30, prosecutors filed a notice with the court they would not seek it.

"This nation stands with Lori Gilbert Kaye’s family and the survivors of these unspeakable acts of terror,” said Randy S. Grossman, acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of California. Read more: NBC News »

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