(May 1, 2019 / JNS) John Earnest, the 19-year-old suspect in Saturday’s shooting at Chabad of Poway in Southern California, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to murder and hate-crime charges.
Earnest showed no emotion in San Diego County Superior Court as Judge Joseph Brannigan denied the suspect bail, calling him “an obvious and extraordinary risk to public safety.”
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed in the attack and three others injured, including the founding rabbi of the Chabad center and an 8-year-old girl.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life without parole or the death penalty, despite California’s moratorium on capital punishment.
“The evidence indicated that the defendant fired eight to 10 rounds before the rifle appeared to jam or malfunction, and the defendant was unable to clear the weapon,” said San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh in court.
An off-duty Border Patrol agent who was in the synagogue, which is located about a half-hour outside of San Diego, fired at Earnest, hitting his car. The gunman fled the scene, but was soon apprehended without incident after he called 911 to admit to committing the crime, in addition to providing his location.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Earnest was armed with an “AR-type assault weapon,” and added that he was being interviewed by the FBI and detectives.
The attack occurred exactly six months after the deadliest shooting in American Jewish history, when a gunman killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh.