(JTA) — The California man who killed a woman and wounded three others when he opened fire at a Poway synagogue in 2019 was sentenced to a second life sentence in federal court Tuesday. John Earnest, who was 19 when he carried out the shooting, had already been sentenced to one life sentence in California state court earlier this year.
While the second life sentence does not actually change the length of the prison sentence, the two life terms are meant to signify the gravity of the crimes committed.
“Obviously this is as serious as it gets,” said U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia, according to the Associated Press.
Earnest, a white supremacist, carried out his attack on the Chabad synagogue in Poway, California on April 27, 2019, just six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead. Earnest cited the attack in Pittsburgh as well as the March 2019 shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand as inspirations in a manifesto he posted online.
In a call to 911 after the shooting, Earnest confessed to the shooting and said he did it to save white people.
“I’m defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people,” Earnest told the operator. Earnest provided a detailed description of the San Diego intersection where he was parked and was taken into custody that day.
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old member of the synagogue, was killed in the shooting and three others were injured. PJC