Dear Commons Community,
On the last day of Passover, a gunman opened fire inside a synagogue in Poway, Calif., killing one person and wounding three others. Authorities said a suspect, John Ernest, was taken into custody in connection with the shooting. As reported by the New York Times:
“The gunman entered the synagogue on Saturday yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and opened fire with an A.R. 15-style gun. He paused when the rabbi of the congregation tried to talk with him. But he fired again, shooting the rabbi in the hand.
His attack left a 60-year-old woman dead, the rabbi wounded and a 34-year-old man and a girl with shrapnel wounds.
It was the Sabbath and the last day of Passover, a holiday that celebrates Jewish freedom.
The shooting, at Chabad of Poway, about 25 miles north of San Diego, is the most recent in a series of deadly attacks at houses of worship, including the mass shooting at mosques in New Zealand last month and the church bombings in Sri Lanka this past week. It came exactly six months after one of the worst acts of violence against the American Jewish community in decades left 11 dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Local officials called the shooting in Poway, Calif., a hate crime. The gunman, whom officials identified as John Earnest, a 19-year-old resident of San Diego, screamed that Jews were ruining the world as he stormed the synagogue, according to a government official with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
The gunman then fled the building, perhaps because his gun stopped working, the authorities said. An off-duty Border Patrol agent at the synagogue shot at the suspect’s vehicle as he tried to escape. The bullets punctured the suspect’s car but did not injure him.
The synagogue did not have a guard at the time, the official said, and there were about 40 to 60 people there at the time of the shooting. Some had come to services especially to say Yizkor, a memorial prayer for the dead that is said on Jewish holidays.
The rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, and three of his congregants were taken to Palomar Medical Center.
The San Diego police chief, David Nisleit, said that after the shooting, the gunman called the California Highway Patrol to report his location on Interstate 15 in Rancho Bernardo. He then surrendered to a police officer who was responding to the attack, jumping out of his vehicle with his hands up.
The police said they were investigating whether the gunman had posted a manifesto before the shooting on the online message board 8chan.
The document, an anti-Semitic screed filled with racist slurs and white nationalist conspiracy theories, echoes the manifesto that was posted to 8chan by the gunman in last month’s mosque slayings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The document’s author, who identified himself as John Earnest, claimed to have been inspired by the Christchurch massacre, as well as the shooting in Pittsburgh, and motivated by the same white nationalist cause.”
Another senseless hate crime that targeted innocents worshiping in a house of peace.