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Gunman gets life without parole for synagogue murder, mosque arson

29th Oct 2021

Harun Nasrullah

The gunman who killed a worshipper and injured three others inside a synagogue in California a month after setting a nearby mosque ablaze was sentenced to life in prison without parole on September 30.

John Timothy Earnest, 22, pleaded guilty in July to murder, attempted murder, and arson in a place of worship, sparing him the death penalty in a deal with prosecutors.

Earnest was sentenced in a San Diego courtroom to a life prison term less than two weeks after pleading guilty to federal hate-crime charges stemming from the same two attacks in 2019.

He faces an additional life term when he is sentenced in the federal case in US District Court on December 28.

Earnest opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue north of San Diego on April 27, 2019, as people were praying for the Passover holiday.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed and three others were wounded in the attack, including the rabbi who lost his index finger.

After the gunman’s weapon jammed, a member of the congregation chased him out of the temple, and he fled in a car, escaping an off-duty US Border Patrol agent who fired at the getaway car but missed the suspect.

Earnest later stopped at a shopping centre, called 911 to report he had committed the shooting, and waited for the police.

Authorities later identified Earnest as the author of a rambling, violently anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim manifesto found posted on the internet under his name minutes before the shooting had begun.

Earnest also professed in the letter to have drawn inspiration from the gunman who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand around that time. He also referred to a shooting that took 11 lives the previous October at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

He stated in the post that he had planned the synagogue rampage for months and claimed responsibility for a predawn arson attack on March 24, 2019, that damaged the Islamic Centre of Escondido (aka Dar Ul Arqam Mosque) about 15 miles from Poway.

Seven people were inside the Islamic Centre; one of them was awake when the fire started. They smelled smoke, saw the fire and tried to stop it before firefighters arrived. Finally, they put out the fire before it caused any significant damage. Someone outside the building had noticed the fire and called 9-1-1.

The mosque’s CCTV recorded Earnest breaking the lock on its parking lot gate and entering before using a flammable liquid to set the mosque on fire.

Gilbert-Kaye’s daughter, Hannah Kaye, called white supremacy “an epidemic that thrives all over this country and overseas.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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