USA v. Earnest, John T.
San Diego, CA
John T. Earnest, after several weeks of planning, on the morning of April 27, 2019, Earnest drove to the Chabad of Poway synagogue, where members of the congregation were gathered for religious worship. He entered the building armed with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 assault rifle that was fully loaded with a 10-round magazine. He wore a chest rig which contained five additional magazines, each loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition. Earnest opened fire, killing one person and injuring three other members of the congregation, including a then eight-year-old child. After Earnest emptied his initial magazine, several congregants rushed at Earnest. He fled in his car and, shortly after, called 911 and confessed that he had "just shot up a synagogue." Earnest was apprehended by local law enforcement who found the rifle and additional ammunition in his car. Earnest also admitted that on March 24, 2019, he attempted to set fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California, because of his hatred of Muslims and the religious character of the building. Seven missionaries were asleep in the mosque, but no one was injured. Earnest pleaded guilty in federal court in September 2021 to a 113-count indictment for the religiously- and racially-motivated murder of one person and the attempted murders of 53 other persons. Earnest was sentenced in December 2021 to life followed by 30 years in prison for his crimes.