Suspect in California synagogue shooting faces 113-count indictment

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The suspect in last month’s shooting at a California synagogue has been charged with federal hate crimes in a 113-count indictment returned by a grand jury in southern California on Tuesday.

John Earnest, 19, has been charged with murder and attempted murder of 53 other people by the grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the Justice Department announced.

Earnest has been charged with 54 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs using a dangerous weapon resulting in death, bodily injury, and attempts to kill as well as related firearm offenses, authorities said. He is also accused of 54 hate-crime charges.

The suspect was initially charged earlier this month with 109 federal counts and he pleaded not guilty to the hate crimes charges last week. The latest indictment adds four charges for discharging a firearm during crimes of violence.

Authorities say Earnest shot four people using an AR-15 rifle at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue on April 27, killing one person. Several congregants, including an off-duty Border Patrol Agent, eventually chased Earnest as he fled the synagogue to his car, where he was subsequently detained by authorities who found the weapon and additional ammunition.

The shooting took place on the last day of Passover.

Authorities later found a manifesto they say belonged to Earnest that included many anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim statements, including comments from Earnest saying he regretted he was unable to kill more people.

According to the affidavit of the criminal complaint, Earnest also admitted in the manifesto to the arson of the nearby Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in March. 

Earnest wrote in his manifesto that he was inspired by the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the recent shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, according to the Justice Department.

He faces a possible death sentence or life without parole. He is currently in state custody pending state criminal charges.



Source

USA News

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