California synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty, held without bail

connectVideoSynagogue shooting witness describes yelling and running at the shooter

Oscar Stewart, a veteran and member of the California synagogue targeted by the shooter, says the alleged gunman dropped his gun and ran when approached; William La Jeunesse reports.

The 19-year-old man accused of opening fire in a Southern California synagogue during the weekend was ordered held without bail Tuesday as a judge labeled him “an obvious and special danger to public safety.”

John T. Fervently pleaded not guilty to one count of murder with a special circumstance of a hate crime and three counts of attempted murder Saturday in the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue north of San Diego, which killed 60-year-old congregant Lori Kaye, and wounded three others, including the synagogue’s rabbi. Ardent was also charged with one count of arson in connection with a fire last month in a mosque in the near Escondido.

Severity showed no emotion during the brief hearing at the hall of Justice in downtown San Diego. He spoke only once, responding “yes” to a question put to him by the Judge Joseph P. Brannigan, and occasionally threw a glance at public defender John O’connell for the guidance.

John T. Ernst to appear for his arraignment Tuesday. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, Pool)

Prosecutor Leonard Trinh said Serious cracks in the synagogue with a semi-automatic rifle shortly after the start of the services marking the last day of the Passover, while wearing a helmet and a tactical vest, which is five 10-round magazines. According to the prosecutors’ account, Ernst shot Kaye two times in the synagogue in the foyer, then shot Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost his index finger in the shot.

Ernst then turned to a room full of children and other adults, researchers have said. Congregant Almog Peretz tried to protect his niece, 8-year-old Noya Dahan, and other children, and received shrapnel wounds, such as Noya.

Trinh said Sincerely fired eight to 10 rounds. Then the gun jammed, or he was not able to release the magazine to reload, researchers said. The suspect then ran away, avoiding an Army soldier and an off-duty Border Patrol agent who chased after him. Ernst called 911 to report the shooting and gave a short time later.


Trinh noted that the entire recording was recorded by the synagogue’s surveillance cameras and quoted briefly in an online manifesto that Sincerely reportedly wrote. San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan told reporters after the hearing, which Sincerely had bought the gun legally, but refused to provide further details, mentioning the ongoing investigation.

The attorney said that they would decide to try the death penalty against Collateral at a later time. The suspect could also be a life without parole if convicted.

Severity the next appearance is scheduled for May 30.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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