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Victims of Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting can sue gunmaker

Surveillance footage from the date of the crime appears to show the shooter's rifle jam or malfunction after he entered the synagogue and opened fire.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A California judge has decided victims of the April 27, 2019 shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue that killed one worshiper can sue the manufacturer of the semiautomatic rifle and the gun shop that sold it to the teenage gunman.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the judge found that victims and families proved their argument that Smith & Wesson knew its AR-15-style rifle could be easily modified into an assault weapon in violation of state law. A federal law shields gunmakers from damages in most cases for crimes committed with their weapons. But it allows lawsuits if the manufacturer knowingly violated a state or federal law.

The former Rancho Penasquitos resident and Cal State San Marcos nursing student, John Timothy Earnest, is facing both state and federal prosecutions for the shooting. He's accused of carrying out the shooting on the last day of Passover, fatally wounding 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, who was shot twice in the synagogue's foyer. Kaye, a longtime member of Chabad of Poway, was at the temple with her husband and daughter to honor her mother, who had recently died.

The congregation's rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, lost a finger in the shooting. Two other people -- Almog Peretz and his niece, Noya Dahan -- were also injured.

Surveillance footage from the date of the crime appears to show the shooter's rifle jam or malfunction after he entered the synagogue and opened fire. He then fled the scene after being chased out by congregants, drove a short distance away, called police and directed them to his location, where he was arrested.

Earnest is also charged with setting fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque in Escondido on March 24, 2019.

He allegedly admitted to both the shooting and the mosque fire in an online open letter in which he espoused flagrant anti-Semitic sentiments and a need to protect the "European race."

For the full story, visit the Associated Press' website.

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