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Death penalty sought in 2019 California synagogue shooting

Posted: 4:30 PM, Mar 05, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-05 19:31:39-05
California Synagogue Shooting

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against a former college student accused of opening fire at a San Diego-area synagogue last year. The attack left one woman dead and three others wounded, including a young girl.

Prosecutors said at a court hearing Thursday that they will ask for the death sentence against John T. Earnest. That's despite Gov. Gavin Newsom signing a moratorium on executions last year.

Even before that, California has not executed anyone since 2006.

Armed with an AR-15, Earnest went into Chabad of Poway as worshippers gathered for the final day of Passover just before noon, Sheriff Bill Gore said. Earnest fired over a dozen rounds hitting the four victims before fleeing the synagogue.

An off-duty Border Patrol agent who had been hired to work as a synagogue security guard, chased Ernest and fired shots, according to the sheriff. Earnest was not hit, but his car had bullet holes.

Earnest called 911 to report himself, Gore said, and was arrested in Rancho Bernardo on I-15 near Rancho Bernardo Road.

Earnest has pleaded not guilty to hate crime-related murder and attempted charges. He is scheduled to go to trial June 2.