The Latest: Federal hate crimes charged in synagogue attack
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Latest on hate crimes charges against the suspect in the California synagogue shooting and a mosque fire (all times local):
Federal prosecutors say 109 hate crime charges filed against a 19-year-old man accused of shooting up a California synagogue involve the murder of one person, the attempted murder of 53 others and arson at a mosque.
U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer Jr. said Thursday the charges against John T. Earnest make him eligible for the death penalty.
Prosecutors allege last month’s attack on Chabad of Poway and an earlier arson at an Escondido mosque were motivated by hatred of the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Earnest specifically faces 54 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs using a dangerous weapon, resulting in death, bodily injury and attempts to kill.
He also faces 54 counts involving the shooting in violation of the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and one count of damage to religious property stemming from the arson.
Earnest was previously charged in San Diego County Superior Court and a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
A federal prosecutor says a 19-year-old man accused of a deadly attack on a Southern California synagogue called a 911 dispatcher and said he thought he killed some people, and did it because he was “trying to defend my nation” against Jews.
U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer Jr. announced in San Diego on Thursday the filing of 109 federal hate crimes charges against John T. Earnest stemming from last month’s shooting at Chabad of Poway that killed a woman and wounded three other people.
The new charges also include an earlier arson at a nearby mosque.
Brewer says authorities will not allow “community members to be hunted in their houses of worship.”
Federal officials have announced 109 hate crime charges against the 19-year-old man accused of opening fire on a Southern California synagogue during Passover service.
Federal and local law enforcement officials announced the charges at a news conference in San Diego on Thursday.
Prosecutors say the gunman, identified as John T. Earnest, killed a woman and wounded an 8-year-old girl, her uncle and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was leading the service at the Chabad of Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday.
In a court appearance last month, Earnest pleaded not guilty to state charges of murder and attempted murder. In a separate case, he has pleaded not guilty to burning a mosque in nearby Escondido.
Authorities say he fired at least eight shots in the synagogue before fleeing.