POWAY, Calif — San Diego Sheriff’s have detained a 19-year-old man in connection with a fatal shooting at the Congregation Chabad in Poway Saturday morning.
The suspect in custody has been identified as John T. Earnest. He reportedly had posted anti-Jewish and anti-Trump messages on social media and created a manifesto. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department believes this to be the manifesto and are reviewing it.
Earnest is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on the following counts: One count of murder with a hate-crime special circumstance and gun allegations, three counts of attempted murder with hate-crime and gun allegations, and arson of a house of worship.
According to police, Earnest walked into the Congregation Chabad in Poway and started shooting. Police said one person was killed and three people were injured. Three victims were taken to Palomar Hospital where they were listed in stable condition Saturday night. The woman who died has been identified 60-year-old Lori Kaye of San Diego. She was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. One victim was a 57-year-old Rabbi who was teaching when the shots went off. He was identified as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
The three injured victims had been treated and released by Sunday morning according to local hospitals.
Goldstein spoke at a press conference Sunday afternoon recounting Saturday's shooting. He also spoke about Lori Kaye and said she was a close friend.
An off-duty Border Patrol agent was inside when the shooting started. The agent opened fire while the suspect fled outside. At that point, bullets missed the suspect, but hit the man's car door. The shooter then took off down the street where he was eventually taken into custody, after calling 911 to say he was involved in a shooting. When SDPD caught up with him the suspect got out of his car with his hands up and was arrested.
The suspect’s car had a bullet hole in the door and an assault-style rifle sitting on the front seat. Witnesses near the scene told News 8 the suspect was wearing what they described as a tactical vest containing additional ammunition. They went on to say the suspect showed little emotion and some even said he looked somber.
After the arrest, an explosive detection dog was sent to make sure the vehicle and the nearby scene was safe. Then, homicide investigators from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and agents with the FBI spoke with the suspect.
The shooting took place around 11:30 a.m. as worshipers were celebrating the final day of Passover. About 100 people were inside the temple at the time, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said. A Family Assistance Center was set up at Poway High School, located at 15500 Espola Road, so people were able to find out information about love ones from the synagogue.
San Diego Sheriff's Department closed Eastbound Espola Road at Summerfield Lane and Westbound Espola Road at Avenida Florencia. Espola Road re-opened on Sunday.
Gore said the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the San Diego Police Department would conduct a joint investigation of the shooting. FBI San Diego Assistant Special Agent in Charge Omer Meisel said federal agents will work closely with local law enforcement on the investigation.
Gore issued an update Sunday saying that his department along with members of several other local, state and federal agencies worked through the night and interviewed approximately 100 people who were victims and witnesses to the shooting.
The update stated that authorities believe the gunman acted alone and "without outside support in carrying out the attack."
The investigation is continuing with evidence processing and additional interviews, according to the statement.
Gore's statement also recognized 51-year-old Oscar Stewart who chased the shooting suspect to a vehicle and an off-duty Border Patrol agent who fired at the suspect striking the car as he drove away.
"The Sheriff’s Department continues to express its sincerest condolences to those affected by yesterday’s crime. Our hearts go out to those going through this difficult time," the statement read in part.
A candlelight vigil was announced for Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Valle Verde Park in Poway. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein is expected to be in attendance.
Chabad of Poway released the following statement on the support received from the community.
"The outpouring of love and support from our entire community, across the country and around the world in this very difficult time has brought us much comfort. A piece of us has been torn away with the loss of Lori. She came to synagogue to say Yizkor for her mother and instead we all said Yizkor for her. Please have Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein — Harav Yisroel ben Chana Priva — הרב ישראל בן חנה פריווא — the founding rabbi of Chabad of Poway; as well as Noyah bat Eden — נואה בת עדן — and Almog Yosef ben Ruti — אלמוג יוסף בו רותי — in your thoughts and prayers for their recovery.
Many have asked how they can contribute to help the victims and their families and assist Chabad of Poway get back on our feet, so we established a fund to do just that here: www.chabadpoway.com/standwithpoway.
May we have only joyous news to share in the future."