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1 dead, 3 hurt in California synagogue attack

A gunman is in custody after opening fire Saturday in a Poway, California, Chabad synagogue, killing a woman, maiming the rabbi, and wounding 2 other people, including a young girl. Poway is a San Diego suburb.

The suspect is described as a white male armed with an AR-type assault rifle, and police described the shooting as a “hate crime.”

An off-duty Border Patrol agent in the area chased the suspect and shot at his car. He later surrendered on a nearby freeway to a K-9 officer en route to the shooting scene. Authorities subsequently identified the suspect as John T. Earnest, 19, whose family resides about 7 blocks from the synagogue.

Earnest has frequented alt-right chat rooms, and expressed his hatred of Jews in a 4,000-word online “manifesto” in which he also claimed responsibility for a recent mosque arson and says he was inspired by the Pittsburgh synagogue and New Zealand mosque shootings. Earnest also said he hoped to livestream the shooting on Facebook, but that didn’t happen. He claimed Jews are “destroying” and committing “genocide” against his “European race,” and asserted he was “defending” his race by attacking the synagogue. Read more details here.

He apparently believed he might get the death penalty, because he said, “If I die, I die.” California has a death penalty statute, but hasn’t executed anyone since 2006 and currently has a moratorium on executions.

This is a developing story compiled from news reports by NBC, ABC, CNN, San Diego 7 News, and other sources.

Photo: Synagogue shooting suspect John T. Earnest


3 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adans #
    1

    Is being a copycat a hate crime?

    I dislike the moniker of hate crime. Many crimes must have a bit of hate intertwined.

    In this case if we could look into the shooters head we may find no hate. We may find political motivation, but that may or may not make it terrorism as the mafia has used terror in its pursuits.

    Maybe best is to call the murder of a woman and the assault with a deadly weapon on three others sufficient and criminally prosecute the shooter. Give the shooter their day in court with every opportunity to prove their innocence or insanity, and if found guilty an appropriate punishment based only on the actual crime committed with no additional factors such as hate crime or terror added in. Perhaps we err even in having additional years added if the victim was a police officer and nearly all jurisdiction add additional years or decades for this factor.

  2. Roger Rabbit #
    2

    You’re using the word “hate” in the vernacular, but the term “hate crime” has a specific legal meaning defined by statute. It is a separate and additional criminal charge in addition to the assault and murder charges. The purpose of charging a perpetrator with a hate crime is to impose a longer sentence. The fact the police characterized this incident as a hate crime doesn’t mean the prosecutor will include it in the charges. It’s kinda pointless to do so if he’s going to get a life sentence or the death penalty anyway.

  3. Roger Rabbit #
    3

    Your comment, “Give the shooter their day in court with every opportunity to prove their innocence or insanity, and if found guilty an appropriate punishment based only on the actual crime committed with no additional factors such as hate crime or terror added in,” demonstrates a limited understanding of how American criminal law works. Don’t feel bad; the average non-lawyer is in the same boat. Law students are taught the following in the first-year criminal law course: To be guilty of a crime, you have to commit an act constituting the crime, yes; but intent is also an important element of most crimes. A person incapable of forming a criminal intent cannot be guilty of a crime requiring intent as one of its elements. Thus, for example, a toddler who picks up a loaded gun and shoots his sister cannot be convicted of murder, manslaughter, assault, or other crimes requiring intent. By the same logic, an insane person cannot be convicted of murder, but can be committed to an institution on the basis that s/he is a danger to society. John Hinckley, for example. In our legal system, “insanity” for the purpose of criminal culpability means inability to distinguish right from wrong. The logic behind hate crime laws is that killing a person because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., involves an especially vicious kind of intent that deserves additional punishment. We can debate the wisdom of such laws, but the fact is, Congress and many state legislatures have passed hate crime laws and they’re a part of our legal system.



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