Poway synagogue shooting victim impact statements to begin following sentencing

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(SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif.) — A young man who pleaded guilty to storming a Poway, California, synagogue and opening fire is set to be sentenced following victim impact statements on Thursday.

John Earnest will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for gunning down 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others, including a child, at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego County in April 2019. The attack took place in the synagogue’s lobby during Saturday morning services, on the last day of Passover.

Earnest, then 19, called 911 after the shooting to turn himself in, saying, “I just shot up a synagogue … because the Jewish people are destroying the white race,” according to the federal complaint.

Earnest, now 22, will be spared the death penalty due to his guilty plea. San Diego County prosecutors said Earnest admitted that he committed the crimes because of his bias and hatred of Jews.

Earnest also pleaded guilty to a 113-count federal hate crime indictment and faces federal sentencing in December. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are recommending a life sentence.

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