Man Detained in San Diego-Area Synagogue Shooting, 1 Dead

on Apr27
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2019-04-27 19:05:13

A woman has died after shots were fired inside a Poway, California synagogue filled with people celebrating the last day of Passover. A suspect was taken into custody approximately two miles away from the synagogue while three patients were rushed to a nearby hospital. 

A 19-year-old San Diego man with a rifle entered Chabad of Poway on Rancho Bernardo Road, west of Interstate 15 at 11:23 a.m. and opened fire on the people inside, law enforcement officials said. 

He has been identified by NBC News as John T. Earnest. Read more about him here.

One woman died from injuries suffered in the shooting. A girl and two adult men were injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, officials confirmed at a 2:30 p.m. briefing. 

As the suspect fled the scene, an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was in the synagogue at the time of the shooting opened fire on the suspect, missing the man but striking his vehicle, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Near the freeway, a San Diego police officer was en route to the scene while monitoring the sheriff’s dispatch when he saw the suspect vehicle.

The suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was taken into custody, SDPD Chief David Nisleit said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle sitting on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle,” Nisleit added. 

More than half a dozen police cars were seen along Rancho Bernardo Road outside Phil’s BBQ — roughly two miles away from the temple — where the suspect was apprehended.

He was not immediately identified and a motive for the shooting was not released.  Gore said investigators were looking into social media posts made by the suspect and may have more at a briefing later this evening.

Chabad of Poway is located at 16934 Chabad Way. The temple was filled as members marked the last day of Passover.

“It’s a very important celebration for us. There’s 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 told her someone came in and started cursing and shooting.

Residents Drew Foncerrada and Avery Foncerrada were walking their dog in the area when they saw “cop cars racing.”

“People choose this neighborhood for their kids because it’s totally safe,” Drew Foncerrada said.

“Nothing happens like this over here,” Avery Foncerrada added.

Two other places of worship, St. John of Damascus Orthodox and Incarnation Lutheran Church, are located immediately next to the synagogue.

John lives near the synagogue and said when he heard the noise of several patrol cars going up and down the street he knew something was not right.

“It’s a pretty tight neighborhood. I’ve been here for 20-some years,” he said. “I have a buddy whose daughter goes to preschool here, and, you know, the people here are the nicest people you ever met.” 

“I want you to know, this is not Poway,” said Mayor Steve Vaus who described the shooting as a hate crime during interviews with cable news channels. “We always walk with our arms around each other.” 

“We are grateful to those in the congregation there that engaged the shooter and prevented this from being a much more horrific incident,” Vaus told MSNBC.

Those injured were transported to Palomar Medical Center Poway, according to deputies.

Initially, two children were reported missing during the incident, but deputies confirmed they were reunited with their parents shortly after.

“As you can imagine, it was an extremely chaotic scene with people running everywhere when we got here,” San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Aaron Meleen said.

“My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected, the families, their loved ones, by the obviously looks right now based on my last conversations, looks like a hate crime, hard to believe,” President Donald Trump said from the south lawn of the White House. “We’re doing some very heavy research we’ll see what happens, what comes up, at this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all of those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-52, posted on social media, saying Saturday’s shooting marks six months to the day of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Other leaders sent condolences including President Donald Trump.

“My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected, the families, their loved ones, by the obviously looks right now based on my last conversations, looks like a hate crime, hard to believe,” President Trump said from the south lawn of the White House. “We’re doing some very heavy research we’ll see what happens, what comes up, at this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all of those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced the following road closures until Sunday morning:

  • Eastbound Espola Road at Summerfield Lane
  • Westbound Espola Road at Avenida Florencia

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.



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