Jul 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California synagogue shooting suspect pleads guilty

John Earnest

Photo: Nelvin C. Cepeda-Pool/Getty Images

John Earnest pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder and other charges related to a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Southern California, AP reports.

The big picture: Under the conditional plea, Earnest agreed to serve a life sentence in prison without the eligibility for parole. His sentencing is slated to take place on Sept. 30.

  • The district attorney's office said it consulted with victims and their families before agreeing to the plea agreement, per AP.
  • Earnest faces additional charges in federal court. Federal prosecutors must decide by Aug. 30 on whether to pursue the death penalty, according to AP.

Background: Earnest entered Chabad of Poway during the last day of the Passover celebrations in 2019 with a semi-automatic rifle. He then opened fire, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others, including an 8-year-old girl and a rabbi.

  • An affidavit indicated that Earnest later called 911 after driving away from the synagogue and said: “I just shot up a synagogue,” explaining to the police dispatcher that he did it “because Jewish people are destroying the white race.”
  • In May 2019, Earnest pleaded not guilty to state murder charges and separately to state and federal arson charges at an Escondido, California, mosque.

Go deeper: Suspected California synagogue shooter pleads not guilty to hate crime charges

Go deeper