San Diego gunman called 911 to confess 'I just shot up a synagogue,' then arranged to surrender, affidavit says

  • The gunman who killed a Jewish worshipper during Passover told 911 “I just shot up a synagogue” as he fled the scene, according to a newly unsealed affidavit.
  • The man, identified as John Earnest, 19, said he opened fire on the synagogue “because Jewish people are destroying the white race,” prosecutors for the US Department of Justice said.
  • During the 911 call, he coordinated his surrender with the dispatcher.
  • Authorities also found an online manifesto in which Earnest said he had previously tried to set fire to a mosque.
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The gunman who killed one person and injured three others at a synagogue in San Diego last month confessed his crime to 911 operators as he sped away from the scene, according to a newly unsealed affidavit.

“I just shot up a synagogue,” the man told them, according to the affidavit. He said he targeted the Passover service “because Jewish people are destroying the white race,” the affidavit said.

John T. Earnest, 19, is the suspect accused of opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle in a synagogue in Poway, a San Diego suburb, on April 27.

The Department of Justice on Thursday charged him with 109 hate-crime violations – 108 from the synagogue shooting and another from an attack on a mosque in March.

The attacker stopped firing only when members of the congregation confronted him as he tried to reload, the affidavit said. The shooting killed Lori Kaye, 60, and injured three others.


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Rabbi synagogue shooting fingerSANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty ImagesRabbi Ysrael Goldstein, who was shot in the hands at the synagogue attack, with congregants after a press conference outside the Chabad of Poway Synagogue on April 28.

Earnest pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder when he appeared in court last month.

But the affidavit alleges that he confessed to the shooting as he fled from the synagogue, acknowledged that he probably killed people, and agreed to surrender. He fled the scene when members of the congregation, including an Army veteran and an off-duty Border Patrol agent, confronted him as he tried to reload his weapon, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, Earnest told 911 operators: “I opened fire at a synagogue. I think I killed some people.”

During his escape, he told 911 he had an AR-15 rifle and a chest rig with more ammunition, according to the affidavit. The dispatcher asked him to leave these in the car before the police arrested him at an agreed location.


Read more:
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Not his first attack, prosecutors say

The affidavit connected Earnest to an attack on a place of worship before the Poway shooting.

An online manifesto published in Earnest’s name said that he tried to burn down a mosque but that the fire was put out. This attack came shortly after another gunman killed 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand.

“I scorched a mosque in Escondido” – a San Diego suburb – “with gasoline a week after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice and they never found s— on me,” the manifesto said. Tarrant is the New Zealand shooting suspect.


Read more:
The Poway synagogue shooter left another manifesto – here’s why you should ignore it

The manifesto also drew inspiration from a shooting that killed 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue last October, according to the affidavit.

The text referred to Jews as a “race” that subjugates other groups, the affidavit said. “I can only kill so many Jews,” its author wrote.

The Poway synagogue thanked law-enforcement officials but warned that more needed to be done to prevent further discrimination,the Associated Press reported.

“As a society we must surely focus on the preventive measure of instilling in our youth a sense of personal accountability to a Higher Being, in whose image every human being was created,” the synagogue said.

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