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Man accused in Poway synagogue attack faces 109 hate crime charges

WATCH ABOVE (April 30): FBI says they were tipped off about synagogue shooting, but not soon enough

SAN DIEGO — Federal officials announced Thursday that they have filed 109 hate crime charges against the 19-year-old man accused of opening fire in a Southern California synagogue.

READ MORE: ‘I was scared, really, really scared’: 8-year-old recounts San Diego synagogue shooting 

Prosecutors say the gunman, identified as John T. Earnest, killed a woman and wounded an 8-year-old girl, her uncle and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was leading the service at the Chabad of Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday.

WATCH: Alleged Poway synagogue shooter appears in court days after attack

Alleged Poway synagogue shooter appears in court days after attack
Alleged Poway synagogue shooter appears in court days after attack

In a court appearance last month, Earnest pleaded not guilty to state charges of murder and attempted murder. In a separate case, he has pleaded not guilty to burning a mosque in nearby Escondido.

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Authorities say he fired at least eight shots in the synagogue before fleeing.

READ MORE: ‘Warrior of love’: Lori Kaye died in the Poway synagogue shooting trying to save her rabbi’s life

Earnest would be eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of murder that is classified as a hate crime. California Gov. Gavin Newsom in March issued a moratorium on executions while he is in office.

Prosecutors say Earnest expressed intentions to harm Jews in an online posting. He also acknowledged using gasoline to spark a blaze that charred a wall of the Escondido mosque and scrawling graffiti praising the gunman who killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques last month.

WATCH: Rabbi remembers synagogue victim Lori Kaye 

Rabbi remembers synagogue victim Lori Kaye: ‘God took the rose, brought her up to heaven’
Rabbi remembers synagogue victim Lori Kaye: ‘God took the rose, brought her up to heaven’

Earnest was an accomplished student, athlete and musician whose embrace of white supremacy and anti-Semitism stunned his family and others closest to him. He lived with his parents and made the dean’s list both semesters last year as a nursing student at California State University, San Marcos.

READ MORE: John Earnest, synagogue shooting suspect, is part of ‘history of evil,’ parents say

Earnest frequented 8chan, a dark corner of the web where those disaffected by mainstream social media sites often post extremist, racist and violent views.

Federal hate crime charges were also filed against the gunman who last fall opened fire at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 worshippers. Authorities in that case say Robert Bowers also expressed hatred of Jews. Bowers, 46, has pleaded not guilty.

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