Thursday, September 19, 2019

Footage of Pesach Shooting at Chabad of Poway

Surveillance video from a Poway synagogue was shown in court Thursday, depicting the moment a gunman charged into the place of worship with an assault rifle and opened fire before congregants chased him away.

Images showing the receipt for a rifle, a hunting license, an alleged manifesto along with ammunition and protective gear found in the vehicle driven by the defendant were also entered into evidence.

John T. Earnest, 20 of San Diego, sat quietly next to his attorneys during the preliminary hearing. At various times during testimony, he made facial expressions and even a hand gesture toward the people sitting in the courtroom.

Earnest faces murder and attempted murder charges, both with hate-crime and gun allegations, and arson of a house of worship in connection with the April 27 shooting and the March 24 fire at an Escondido mosque. He also faces more than 110 federal charges.

The Mount Carmel High School graduate and Cal State San Marcos nursing student has pleaded not guilty.

Earnest is believed to have acted alone when he burst into the Chabad of Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover, and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing beloved community member Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others, including the synagogue's rabbi and an 8-year-old girl, Noya Dahan.

Cameras positioned both inside and outside the synagogue captured the less-than-three-minute incident on surveillance -- from the moment the suspect vehicle pulled up outside the church to the moment congregants chased him away.

Oscar Stewart, an Army veteran and Chabad of Poway worshiper who is credited for running after the shooter, described the chaos when gunshots first rang out.

"They were trying to get out. Most of them were running towards the exit doors," Stewart said. "The sanctuary has numerous doors and they were running towards there. People were falling over each other; there was chaos."

Video from the lobby showed a gunman approach the synagogue's entrance; Kaye was struck immediately and thrown to the ground. Rabbi Israel Goldstein was also in the lobby area, the video shows; officials said he was struck in the hand.

Stewart identified the man in court, Earnest, as the person who opened fire that day.

He said as he began to run towards the shooter, the gunman appeared to run out of ammunition.

"I told him I was going to kill him. I was trying to throw him off. I didn’t say it very politely. I yelled it and used some profanities also," he said.

The video shows at least four congregants run after the suspect. The gunman then jumps into a vehicle across the street and drives off.

Warning! Footage displays extreme violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Watch the full court proceedings of Thursday's preliminary hearing.

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