May 2 2019
One person has been killed and three wounded following a shooting at a California synagogue. Officials say that 19-year old John Earnest entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue a little before noon on Saturday morning, armed with an AR-15 style weapon, and shouting anti-Semitic slurs. Saturday being the last day of Jewish Passover, the synagogue was more crowded than usual. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein attempted to talk to the shooter after he opened fire, but Goldstein was shot in both hands. 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, present at the service to honor her deceased mother, was killed. 34 year old Almog Peretz and his 8 year old niece, Noya Dahan, were also injured. Earnest then exited the building, presumably after his weapon malfunctioned, and surrendered to the police hours later. He has been charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
This is just the latest in a series of attacks on places of religious worship, the most recent being a series of Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and a mass shooting at a Christchurch, New Zealand mosque. Officials are investigating a letter published by Earnest on far-right website 8chan hours before the shooting. Similar to the manifesto attributed to the Christchurch mosque shooter, the document was described by the New York Times as “full of racist slurs and white nationalist conspiracy theories.” Earnest wrote that his role models included Jesus Christ, Adolf Hitler, and the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania.
Hundreds attended a vigil for Lori Gilbert Kaye, held Sunday night at a park near the synagogue. President Donald Trump condemned the attack at a rally in Wisconsin, saying that, “Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.” Trump also called the rabbi of the synagogue, who said in a Sunday press conference that he was “amazed” to have received the call, and that he discussed many topics with the president. “I’m really grateful to our president for taking the time and making that effort to share with us his comfort and consolation,” Goldstein said. Rabbi Goldstein returned to his sermon after the shooter left the building, later telling the Today show, “I guarantee you, we will not be intimidated or deterred by terror. Terror will not win.”