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Synagogue shooter pleads not guilty

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 5/01/19, 11:29 am

At his first court appearance on Tuesday, John T. Earnest pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder in the shooting at a San Diego synagogue that killed one person and injured three others on Saturday. Earnest also pleaded not guilty to setting fire to a mosque last month in Escondido, Calif. San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan told reporters that something happened to Earnest’s gun that kept him from continuing the attack at the synagogue. Earnest called 911 after fleeing the shooting and reported his location, where a police officer arrested him without a struggle.

Earnest’s family members released a statement through their attorneys on Monday saying they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack and fully cooperating with the investigation: “Like our other five children, he was raised in a family, a faith, and a community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do. How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us.”

The Earnests belong to Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, Calif., and the church’s denomination issued a statement on Tuesday condemning “in strongest terms the sentiments of anti-Semitism and racist hatred which apparently motivated the shooter. Such beliefs are contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and have no place within our system of doctrine or in the teachings and practices of our church.”

Judge Joseph Brannigan denied bail for Earnest and scheduled a hearing for July 8.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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