Skip to main content

A couple embrace near a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on April 29, 2019. Prosecutors in California plan to seek the death penalty against John T. Earnest for allegedly carrying out an attack on the San Diego-area synagogue that left one woman dead and three others wounded.

Gregory Bull/The Associated Press

Prosecutors in California plan to seek the death penalty against a former college student accused of carrying out a 2019 attack on a San Diego-area synagogue that left one woman dead and three others wounded.

The San Diego County prosecutors said during a court hearing Thursday that they will ask for the death sentence against John T. Earnest in the April 27, 2019, attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue.

That’s despite Gov. Gavin Newsom signing an executive order last year placing a moratorium on executions. Even before that, California has not executed anyone since 2006.

Story continues below advertisement

Prosecutors say Earnest, a 20-year-old nursing student, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle during the last day of Passover services. The attack killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounded three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger.

Earnest then reportedly called 911 to say he had shot up a synagogue because Jews were trying to “destroy all white people.”

He is scheduled to go to trial June 2 after pleading not guilty to hate-crime-related murder, attempted murder and other charges.

Earnest also will be tried on an arson charge for a fire at a nearby mosque that happened weeks before the synagogue shooting. Nobody was hurt during the fire.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies