California Synagogue shooter John Earnest (File photo)
California Synagogue shooter John Earnest (File photo)

California Synagogue shooter charged with 109 counts of hate crimes

ANI | Updated: May 10, 2019 14:47 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], May 10 (ANI): The 19-year-old accused in last month's shooting at a synagogue in southern California was on Thursday charged with more than 100 federal hate crimes and civil rights violations.
"The Department of Justice today charged a California man with federal hate crimes, including the murder of one person and the attempted murder of 53 others, for his actions during the April 27 shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California", the United States Department of Justice said in a statement cited by Sputnik.
According to the affidavit, the shooter, identified as John T. Earnest, opened fire inside the synagogue during a religious service, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye and injuring three others, including the rabbi and 8-year-old girl, before fleeing and being chased by members of the congregation, the Justice Department said.
The assailant after opening fire fled the scene in his car but was later detained by law enforcement officers who discovered an AR-15 automatic rifle and magazines of ammunition in his car, the statement read.
US Attorney for the Southern District of California, Robert Brewer said prosecutors on Thursday filed a new criminal complaint against Earnest, who is also suspected of arson at a mosque in nearby Escondido in late March.
"Our actions today are inspired by our desire to achieve justice for all of the victims and their families," CNN quoted Brewer as saying.
The new criminal complaint charges Earnest with 109 new counts, including 54 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and bodily injury and involving the attempt to kill, Brewer said.
"That's one count for every person in the synagogue on April 27, including 12 children," Brewer said, adding that each of the counts is "death penalty-eligible."
Earnest was prosecuted in San Diego County Superior Court last week on charges that included one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection to last month's deadly shooting at the Poway synagogue. However, his public defender entered a not-guilty plea on Earnest's behalf and denied those allegations, CNN reported.
He is expected to appear in federal court next week.
As part of the federal case, prosecutors also cited an open-letter posted online just before the shooting took place by Earnest consisting of anti-Semitic and white nationalist sentiments. (ANI)

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