1 dead, 3 injured after California synagogue shooting that local officials are calling a 'hate crime'

  • A shooting at a California synagogue killed one and injured three people on Saturday.
  • Authorities announced Saturday that a 19-year-old male suspect was arrested in connection with the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, which the city’s mayor said was a “hate crime,” due to statements the shooter made at the scene.
  • Lori Kaye-Gilbert, 60, died after stepping into the line of fire to protect the synagogue’s rabbi, who was delivering a sermon. Authorities said two other people, including an eight-year-old girl, were being treated at local hospitals for their injuries.
  • John Earnest, 19, was identified by authorities late Saturday as the suspect in the attack.
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One person is dead, three are injured, and a 19-year-old male suspect is in custody after a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, on Saturday that local officials said was a “hate crime.”

Police responded to the Chabad of Poway synagogue on Saturday for reports of a man with a gun. Mayor Steve Vaus of Poway told CNN the shooting was a hate crime due to statements the shooter made at the scene.

Authorities told reporters at a press conference that an adult woman was killed, and the synagogue’s rabbi was injured. Of the three injured victims, one adult was in surgery, another was in stable condition, and a juvenile was also in stable condition and was taken to a local children’s hospital.

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County said in a statement hours after the attack that the one victim of the shooting was 60-year-old Lori Kaye. Witnesses told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Kaye jumped in the way to protect the synagogue’s founding rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein.

Goldstein, who was leading services, was among those injured in the attack when shots hit his index fingers. Despite the injury, witnesses said Goldstein finished his sermon and told his audience to remain strong

Read more: The rabbi shot inside a California synagogue reportedly continued his sermon despite being injured

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that others injured include 8-year-old Noya Dahan, who was hurt by shrapnel that struck her in the face and leg, and Almong Peretz, 34, who was shot in the leg as he ushered children to safety a nearby playroom.

The suspect has been identified as John Earnest, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore told reporters. He added that Earnest allegedly used an AR-style rifle in the attack.

Police said they are investigating an “open letter” and social-media posts that the suspect, who they identified as one “John Earnest” may have left behind.

An anti-Semitic manifesto published under the name “John T. Earnest” circulated online, though authorities didn’t explicitly linked the document to the suspect.

“We have copies of his social media posts and his open letter and will be reviewing those to determine the legitimacy of it and exactly how it plays into the investigation,” Gore told reporters.

Gore added that Earnest was also being investigated in connection with a fire at a nearby mosque in Escondido last month. The incident also included a note that referenced the March attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 people.

An “open letter” posted online to the fringe message board site 8chan under a username hours before the attack detailed the author’s hatred of Jewish people and intent to defend European bloodlines.

The manifesto also mentions Brenton Tarrant, the suspected gunman who has been charged with killing 50 people at a New Zealand mosque last month, as inspiration for the attack.

Leaders and lawmakers began weighing in Saturday afternoon with condolences. President Donald Trump told reporters outside the White House that he believed the shooting was a hate crime.

“It looks like a hate crime. Hard to believe,” he said. “We’re doing some very heavy research, we’ll see what happens, what comes up. At this point it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all of those affected. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that hatred “must be called out” in the wake of similar shootings across the world.

“Charleston, Pittsburgh, Quebec, New Zealand – now our own Poway, California. No one should ever fear going to their place of worship,” he wrote. “Hate continues to fuel horrific and cowardice acts of violence across our state, country and world. It must be called out. CA stands with Poway.”

Saturday marks the final day of the two-week Jewish holiday Passover and the weekly holy Sabbath day.

The incident hearkens back to a shooting that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, exactly 6 months ago also during Saturday morning services. The gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue while shouting anti-Semitic slurs before he was killed in a confrontation with police.

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