Shooting the California Synagogue Investigated as a Hate Crime After 1 Killed, 3 Injured
A gunman opened fire on the California synagogue early Saturday, killing one person and wounding three others.
The incident took place in the Poway Chabad synagogue in San Diego, Poway, California, suburban, and occurred on the last day of Easter.
Authorities said the suspect fled the synagogue and called the police to say he was involved in the shooting. They identified the suspect as John Earnest from San Diego, 19, who was arrested.
The report said a document posted online by someone of the same name was full of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views and claimed responsibility for the burning of a nearby mosque in March.
Four people were injured and taken to a hospital, where a woman died of her injuries, police said.
Friends and members of the congregation identified the woman who died as Lori Gilbert Kaye from 60-year-old Poway.
“He is very here. He is only one of those people who are always here in certain forms or styles,” said fellow congressman Tanya Wervy told reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler. Wervy says Gilbert Kaye is a generous person who will be missed.
“Eyewitnesses said he jumped in front of the synagogue founder rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured on the index finger in both hands,” reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Police said a rabbi suffered a gunshot wound in his hand and underwent surgery, while a 34-year-old man and child was hit by shrapnel. The doctor said they were fine, said the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The child was transferred to a children’s hospital.
The suspect had an AR style assault weapon in his vehicle when he was arrested. Authorities said he had no previous arrest warrant or contact with law enforcement, and that they were reviewing social media posts and letters linked to the suspect.
The shooting is being investigated as a possible murder, racial crime and violation of federal civil rights. The authorities also worked with the FBI to investigate whether the suspect was related to the burning of the mosque.
“This is not Poway,” Mayor Steve Vaus told reporters. “We always walk with our hands around each other, and we will walk through this tragedy with our hands around each other … Poway will remain strong, and we will always be a community that cares for each other.”
The shooting took place six months since 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The Chabad of Poway Synagogue is scheduled to host the Easter Holiday Celebration on Saturday, starting at 11am, according to its website. The celebration is scheduled to end with a holiday meal at 7pm.
But not long after the scheduled start time, deputies were called to the area.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, President Trump expressed condolences to members of the synagogue. Trump said, “My deepest sympathy is directed at people who are affected, their families, their loved ones … It seems like racial crime. It’s hard to believe.”
Sara Bloomfield, Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, said in a statement, “Moving forward should serve as one more wake-up call that antisemitism is a growing and deadly threat. The Holocaust is a reminder of the dangers of uncontrolled antisemitism and ways of hatred can infect people All Americans must expressly condemn it and face it wherever it appears. ”
Trump extended his comments to the Saturday night shooting, speaking to a crowd of supporters at the start of the rally in Green Bay, Wis.
“Tonight, America’s heart with the victims of the terrible synagogue shootings in Poway, California, just now,” the president said. “Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We strongly condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hatred, which must be defeated.”
He also thanked law enforcement for their “courageous response,” and sent an inclusive message.
“Together we are building a new chapter of America’s greatness,” he said, “which was founded on the idea that all citizens have the right to live in safety, prosperity and peace.”
The sheriff’s department said he was not aware of any threats to the community.