John T. Earnest, 19, was taken into custody without incident on Saturday following the shooting near San Diego
Police are investigating a manifesto apparently posted online by the suspect in a San Diego synagogue shooting that left one dead and several others injured.
John T. Earnest, 19, was taken into custody without incident following the shooting at the Chabad of Poway Jewish congregation around 11.30am PT on Saturday, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Killed in the attack was Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, according to a family friend.
The three injured victims were identified as: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was shot in the fingers; an eight-year-old girl visiting from Israel; and the girl’s 34-year-old uncle Almog Peretz, also visiting from Israel.
A manifesto posted online shortly before the attack and purporting to be by Earnest cites hatred of Jewish people as the motive for the attack, and takes credit for a separate arson attack on an Escondido mosque last month.
The manifesto also cites as inspiration attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month, and a deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue exactly six months ago.
Earnest is believed to be a nursing student at California State University and has no known criminal record.
Police say the suspect is a resident of San Diego who was armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. There is initial suspicion that the weapon may have jammed during the shooting, limiting the loss of life.
An armed off-duty Border Patrol agent who was inside the synagogue returned fire at the shooter, who then retreated in a vehicle before calling 911 and surrendering to police without incident, according to police.
Synagogue members console one another outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday on Saturday in Poway, Calif. Several people were injured and one was killed in a shooting at the synagogue
Killed: Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, (left and right) was killed in the attack, according to a family friend
Injured: Almog Peretz, 34, was visiting family in the area for the Passover holiday from Israel. He is listed in stable condition
Injured: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was shot in the hand, but witnesses say he continued to deliver a sermon during the shooting
Shooting suspect Earnest is believed to be a nursing student at California State University and has no known criminal record
Earnest was a dean’s list student at California State University, San Marcos, university President Karen S. Haynes confirmed in a statement.
In the 4,000-word manifesto posted online before the shooting, which is filled with sarcastic jokes and references to internet and video game culture, the author described himself as a 19-year-old nursing student and native of California.
The author of the manifesto said that he had been playing piano since the age of four. Video from social media shows that Earnest is a talented piano player.
‘If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised,’ the author wrote. ‘I’m just a normal dude who wanted to have a family, help and heal people, and play piano.’
Video from social media shows that Earnest is a talented piano player. The author of the manifesto said that he had been playing piano since the age of four
An unconfirmed manifesto purporting to be by Earnest cites hatred of Jewish people as the motive for the attack
He wrote that he was inspired by the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand where 50 died last month and the suspect in that case, Brenton Tarrant.
‘Tarrant was a catalyst for me personally,’ the manifesto reads. The author also references the shooting at a Pittsburgh mosque exactly six months to the day before the Poway attack, as well as the suspect in that case, Robert Bowers. Both Bowers and Tarrant are in custody.
Like Tarrant in his own writings, the manifesto author states that his end goal is to prompt the U.S. government to begin confiscating guns, predicting that a civil war will ensue. The author said he had been planning the attack for four weeks.
The manifesto author also states that he committed an unsolved arson attack against the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido on March 24, adding that he spray-painted the message ‘For Brenton Tarrant’ in the parking lot of the mosque.
The author of 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 a long list of detailed grievances against Jewish people, accusing them of planning a genocide against the ‘European race’.
The author of a manifesto about the shooting states that he committed an unsolved arson attack against the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido on March 24, adding that he spray-painted the message ‘For Brenton Tarrant’ in the parking lot
A car, allegedly used by the gunman who killed one at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, is pictured, few hundred feet from the Interstate 15 off-ramp north of San Diego, California
Heavily armed San Diego police officers approach a house thought to be the home of 19 year-old John T. Earnest, who is a suspect in the shooting of several people in a Poway synagogue, on Saturday
Earnest’s father is seen being interviewed by police. Public records show that the father is a high school teacher and the president of an orthodox Presbyterian church in Escondido
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.
The post does not specify an intended target, but makes clear that an imminent attack of some kind is planned.
At least one person says they saw the post and alerted the FBI, according to a post on Twitter. The person said that they got off the phone only eight minutes prior to the shooting, making a tactical response all but impossible.
‘We are collecting digital evidence and are aware of the manifesto,’ San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at a press conference.
Gore said that Earnest had no prior criminal record, and no known ties to white supremacist groups. He said Earnest lived with his parents.
Public records show that Earnest’s father is a high school teacher and the president of an orthodox Presbyterian church in Escondido. The manifesto stated that the shooter did not get his beliefs from his family.
Synagogue members walk outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday in Poway, California
An FBI agent gives out information to members of the media outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue on Saturday
Saturday’s shooting unfolded during services on the last day of Passover, and there are believed to have been about 100 people inside the synagogue at the time of the attack.
Witnesses say the gunman was wearing a tactical vest and a helmet, according to CBS 8. The reports have not yet been confirmed by police.
Rabbi Goldstein, who founded the Chabad center in 1986, 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.
President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in remarks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
‘Based on my last conversations, it looks like a hate crime. Hard to believe,’ Trump said. ‘My deepest sympathies go to the families who were affected.’
‘It looks like the person has been apprehended, no more danger, and law enforcement has done a fantastic job,’ he continued.
Once at the rally, Trump made additional remarks, calling the shooting ‘horrific’ and saying, ‘we forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.’
‘Incredible response today by law enforcement. And I especially want to recognize a certain off-duty border patrol agent who bravely returned fire and helped disrupt the attack and saved so many lives. Border patrol!’ added Trump.
President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in remarks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, center, speaks at a news conference held outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday in Poway, California. Several people were injured and one died in a shooting at the synagogue
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, speaking from a police command center, characterized Saturday’s shooting as a ‘hate crime,’ saying his assessment was based on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.
Police disclosed nothing else about a possible motive. But San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media posts and ‘his open letter.’
Gore told reporters that four people were struck by gunfire and taken to Palomar Medical Center, where one of the victims, an ‘older woman,’ died.
The attack occurred shortly before 11.30am in Poway, a suburb of about 50,000 residents, when the suspect walked into the synagogue and started shooting, Gore said.
As he was making his getaway, an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was inside the synagogue opened fire on the suspect, striking the vehicle but apparently missing the suspect, according to Gore.
The gunman was arrested a short time later when he peacefully surrendered to police.
A San Diego officer was en route to the shooting scene when he overheard a California Highway Patrol (CHP) radio dispatch ‘of a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location,’ San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit recounted.
‘The officer was actually on the freeway and he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over and jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,’ Nisleit said.
He said the rifle believed to be the murder weapon was found on the front passenger seat of the car.
People hug next to police tape across the street from the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on Saturday in Poway
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue. There have been four confirmed victims of the shooting, with one left dead
Police are seen responding to the shooting after a gunman opened fire at the Chabad of Poway congregation on Saturday
The shooting comes on the last day of Passover. According to the synagogue’s website, the congregation were hosting a Passover Holiday Celebration that began at 11am and was scheduled to last all day
The synagogue was hosting a holiday celebration beginning at 11 a.m. and due to culminate in a final Passover meal at 7 p.m.
Authorities said about 100 people were inside the temple, where Saturday services marking the Jewish Sabbath would have been under way or have just concluded.
Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee who said her husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. ‘We are united. You can’t break us. We are in the U.S.,’ Anvari said.
A man who lives nearby, Christopher Folts, said on CNN he heard six to seven gunshots, then a man yelling, followed by six to seven more shots.
Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the street from the shooting scene, said her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover services and that they were heading to Chabad of Poway to show support and help.
‘We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,’ Bromberg told The Los Angeles Times, adding that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway leadership because they would not normally use the phone during the Sabbath.
‘They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,’ Bromberg told the newspaper.
Residents place flowers and messages of support at an intersection next to the Chabad of Poway synagogue where a gunman opened fire earlier in the day killing one person and injuring three, in Poway, California
A group gathers outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh for a vigil to honor the victims of the Saturday attack on a synagogue in Poway. It is six months to the day that a gunman shot and killed 11 people while they worshipped at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018
Major Vaus told CNN that members of the congregation attempted to overpower the gunman.
‘This shooter was engaged by people in the congregation and those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy,’ Major Vaus stated, adding that the shooter had ‘hate’ in his heart.
It’s believed the man fired between 12 and 14 shots inside the center.
Witnesses say that even after being shot, Rabbi Goldstein called for unity and prayer among the congregation.
‘Rabbi said, ‘We are united,” said Anvari, a refugee from Iran.
‘This is something bad (that) is happening all over. And we have to believe that this bad thing is real and we don’t have to ignore it. We have to open our eyes. He prayed for peace. I respect him — even in spite of being injured he refused to go to hospital and he spoke. And he finished his speech and he then left the synagogue.’