POWAY, Calif. (Reuters) – A gunman walked right into a San Diego-area synagogue crowded with Sabbath worshippers on Saturday and opened hearth with an assault-style rifle, killing one lady inside and wounding three others in a hate crime carried out on the final day of Passover, authorities stated.
The suspect, who fled the scene by automobile however surrendered to police a short while later, was recognized by authorities as John Earnest, 19, of San Diego, the obvious creator of a “manifesto” who claimed to have set a close-by mosque on hearth final month and professed drawing inspiration from the gunman who killed practically 50 folks at two mosques in New Zealand.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore stated police and FBI had been investigating Earnest’s “possible involvement” in an unsolved pre-dawn arson on March 24 on the Islamic Center of Escondido, a city about 15 miles (24 km) north of the synagogue attacked on Saturday. No one was harm on the mosque hearth.
Gore stated Earnest had “no prior criminal record.”
The gun violence on the Congregation Chabad synagogue within the city of Poway, California, about 23 miles (37 km) north of downtown San Diego, unfolded six months to the day after 11 worshippers had been killed and 6 others had been wounded by a gunman who stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh yelling, “All Jews must die.”
The assailant in that bloodbath, stated to be the deadliest assault ever towards Jews on U.S. soil, was arrested.
Saturday’s Passover violence adopted a latest spate of lethal assaults on homes of worship world wide. Suicide bombings throughout Easter Sunday companies at a number of church buildings in Sri Lanka killed greater than 250 folks. A gunman who opened hearth at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15 left 49 folks useless and greater than 40 wounded, some as they knelt in prayer.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus characterised Saturday’s shooting as a “hate crime,” saying his evaluation was based mostly on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.
At a information convention later, Gore instructed reporters: “Clearly it’s being investigated as a homicide, but we’re also looking at the hate crime possible violation as well as federal civil rights violations.”
A rambling, violently anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim screed written by a person calling himself John Earnest was discovered posted to the web text-storage website Pastebin.com and the file-storage website Mediafire.com. Links to the content material on each sources had been posted on the Internet message board 8chan.
In that letter, the creator additionally claimed credit score for the Escondido mosque arson, which was put out by congregants inside who had been alerted by the odor of smoke. Local media on the time reported message scrawled on the driveway of the mosque talked about the New Zealand bloodbath.
Speaking with reporters on the White House about Saturday’s assault, U.S. President Donald Trump stated, “My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected.” He added that “it looks like a hate crime” and that authorities will “get to the bottom of it.”
RABBI AMONG THE WOUNDED
Gore instructed reporters that 4 folks had been struck by gunfire and brought to Palomar Medical Center, the place one of the victims, an “older woman,” died. The three different sufferers – “two adult males” and a “female juvenile” – had been listed in secure situation, Gore stated.
Authorities later recognized one of the victims because the rabbi, who underwent surgical procedure for remedy of “defensive wounds to his index fingers.” The sheriff’s workplace stated the 2 different sufferers, a 34-year-old man and the lady, had been every struck by shrapnel however had been “doing well.”
The assault occurred shortly earlier than 11:30 a.m. in Poway, a suburb of about 50,000 residents, when the suspect walked into the synagogue and began shooting, Gore stated. As he was making his getaway, an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent opened hearth on the suspect, putting the car however apparently lacking the suspect, in keeping with Gore.
The gunman was arrested a short while later when he gave himself as much as police.
A San Diego officer was en path to the shooting scene when he overheard a California Highway Patrol (CHP) radio dispatch “of a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit recounted.
“The officer was actually on the freeway and he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over and jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit stated.
He stated the assault-style rifle believed to be the homicide weapon was discovered on the entrance passenger seat of the automobile.
Local tv channel KGTV 10News stated the synagogue was internet hosting a vacation celebration starting at 11 a.m. and resulting from culminate in a remaining Passover meal at 7 p.m. Authorities stated about 100 folks had been contained in the temple, the place Saturday companies marking the Jewish Sabbath would have been underneath approach or have simply concluded.
A person who lives close by, Christopher Folts, stated on CNN he heard six to seven gunshots, then a person yelling, adopted by six to seven extra pictures.
Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the road from the shooting scene, stated her congregation realized of the shooting on the finish of their Passover companies and that they had been heading to Chabad of Poway to indicate assist and assist.
“We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,” Bromberg instructed The Los Angeles Times, including that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway management as a result of they’d not usually use the cellphone throughout the Sabbath.
“They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,” Bromberg instructed the newspaper.
Reporting by Bridget Clerkin in Poway; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Daniel Wallis in New York; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Matthew Lewis and Andrea Ricci