On last day of Passover: 1 murdered, 3 injured in shooting attack at synagogue near San Diego
A gunman opened fire at a Chabad synagogue near San Diego, California, murdering one and injuring multiple Jewish worshipers, including Rabbi and children, on last day of Passover.
Poway Major Steve Vaus has confirmed one killed and called the shooting attack a hate crime.
Witnesses say the gunman was wearing a tactical vest and a helmet.
One of the victims is said to be the synagogue’s Rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who founded the Chabad center in 1986. He was reportedly shot and lost two fingers.
Witnesses say the rabbi tried to calm the gunman and members of the congregation even after he was wounded.
Two young girls are reportedly missing in the wake of the shooting.
Deputies were called to Chabad of Poway just before 11:30 a.m PST, according to Poway officials.
Police have confirmed that a 19-year-old gunman has been apprehended.
“We don’t believe there are any other suspects,” a spokesperson for San Diego police said.
According to the spokesperson, there are several people injured and at least four victims have been transported to a hospital.
Major Vaus said that members of the congregation attempted to overpower the gunman, with an armed guard of the synagogue returning fire.
‘This shooter was engaged by people in the congregation and those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy,’ Vaus stated, adding that the shooter had ‘hate’ in his heart.
The shooter attempted to flee the scene in a car before being apprehended by authorities a short distance down the road.
The shooting comes on the last day of Passover. According to the event announcement on the synagogue’s website, they were hosting a Passover Holiday Celebration that began at 11 a.m. and was set to end at 7 p.m. with a final Passover meal.
‘It’s a very important celebration for us. There are lots of people inside, they’re praying,’ Minoo Anvari a member of the congregation told NBC 7. ‘Everybody was crying and screaming.’
Anvari said her husband was inside during the shooting and said someone came in, started cursing and then opened fire.
Israeli Consul in Los Angeles Avner Saban is investigating whether any Israelis were at the scene of the attack.
Details to follow
A 19-year-old neo-Nazi armed with a semiautomatic rifle walked into a San Diego County synagogue and opened fire on the congregation on last day of Passover, murdering a Jewish woman and injuring three others.
The neo-Nazi was identified as John T. Earnest. He was arrested without incident following the shooting at the Chabad of Poway, around 11.30am PT on Saturday.
Authorities identified the woman murdered in the anti-Semitic attack as 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye.
The three injured victims were identified as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was shot in the fingers; 8-year-old girl Noya Dahan, visiting from Israel; and the girl’s 34-year-old uncle Almog Peretz, also visiting from Israel.
As the attacker was fleeing the scene, an off-duty Border Patrol agent who was at the synagogue shot at the shooter’s vehicle, but he got away, authorities said. He was captured a short time later.
A large group of congregants had gathered behind the synagogue after the shooting attack, sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Meleen said. About 100 people were inside the synagogue at the time celebrating Passover.
“As you can imagine, it was an extremely chaotic scene with people running everywhere when we got here,” he said.
In a manifesto, the neo-Nazi shooter claimed responsibility for an arson fire that blackened the walls of the Islamic Center in Escondido on March 24. There were seven people inside the building at the time the fire erupted about 3:15 a.m. but no one was injured.
He left a note referring to a shooting rampage at two New Zealand mosques on March 15 that left 50 people dead.
“I scorched a mosque in Escondido with gasoline a week after” the New Zealand shootings, Earnest wrote in his letter. But the people inside “woke up and put out the fire pretty much immediately after I drove away which was unfortunate.”
The neo-Nazi also championed Robert Bowers — who murdered 11 people and wounded six others in the Tree of Life synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh six months ago — and Adolf Hitler.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus called the shooting there a “hate crime,” based on statements the shooter was heard making as he entered the synagogue.
Earnest is believed to be a nursing student at California State University and has no known criminal record.
The manifesto says that he does not support President Donald Trump, calling the president ‘Jew-loving’ and ‘anti-White’. Much of the manifesto consists of grievances against Jewish people.
There are indications in online postings that the shooter planned to live-stream the synagogue attack on Facebook, but did not succeed.
An anonymous post on the imageboard 8chan, posted roughly 30 minutes before the attack, linked to the manifesto and Earnest’s Facebook page, promising a live stream, which never occurred.
The 8chan post also included a ‘playlist’ of songs for the attack and a goodbye note.
‘We are collecting digital evidence and are aware of the manifesto,’ San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at a press conference.