Man, 19, detained after synagogue shooting in San Diego County
A gunman with a semiautomatic rifle walked into a suburban San Diego County synagogue and opened fire Saturday, killing one person and wounding three in an attack authorities think was motivated by hate.
A 19-year-old was arrested in connection with the shooting, authorities said. The gunman, who is white, entered Chabad of Poway about 11:20 a.m. local time and started firing.
He was identified as John T. Earnest of Rancho Penasquitos. He was arrested and is being questioned by homicide detectives.
Earnest appears to have written a letter posted on the internet filled with anti-Semitic screeds. In the letter, he also talked about planning the attack.
“How long did it take you to plan the attack? Four weeks. Four weeks ago, I decided I was doing this. Four weeks later, I did it.”
He wrote he was willing to sacrifice his future “for the sake of my people.”
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus called it a hate crime, based on what the shooter was heard saying as he entered the synagogue Saturday, the last day of Passover.
A large group of congregants had gathered behind the temple after the shooting, sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Meleen said. It was not immediately clear how many people were attending services.
Passover is one of the most sacred holidays in the Jewish faith. The eight-day festival is typically observed with a number of rituals, including Seder meals, the removal of leavened products from the home, and the sharing of the exodus story.
After the shooting, some children were initially reported missing, Meleen said, but they have been found.
“As you can imagine, it was an extremely chaotic scene with people running everywhere when we got here,” he said.
The wounded were taken to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, Calif., sheriff’s officials said.
As the attacker drove off, an off-duty Border Patrol agent shot at his vehicle, but he got away, authorities said. He was captured a short time later.
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy Saturday outside the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, Calif.