Woman dead, suspect detained in synagogue shooting near San Diego

Tauren Dyson and Allen Cone
One man has been detained in connection with the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. Photo courtesy Chabad of Poway
One man has been detained in connection with the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. Photo courtesy Chabad of Poway

April 27 (UPI) -- Police have detained a man in connection with a shooting Saturday at the Chabad of Poway synagogue that killed a woman and wounded three other people, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore on Twitter identified the suspect as John Earnest, 19, of San Diego. He said Earnest used an AR-type assault weapon during the shooting.


The shooting occurred during a Passover Holiday Celebration at 11:23 a.m. PDT in Poway, about 30 miles north of San Diego. It happened on the last day of Passover for Orthodox Jews.

"A man has been detained for questioning in connection with a shooting incident at the Chabad of Poway synagogue," the Sheriff's Office in the city of Poway tweeted.

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Authorities are trying to determine whether the white suspect is linked to an incident at the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque, also known as the Islamic Center of Escondido, last month in which no injuries were reported but the exterior of the building was damaged, CNN reported.

Gore said they are in the process of reviewing the online content "to determine its validity and authenticity."


One witness said he heard about 15 shots that lasted around 30 seconds.

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Walter Vandivort heard the gunshots from his home nearby.

"I see Orthodox Jews walking to their synagogue and we've never had a problem," Vandivort told The New York Times.

An off-duty Border Patrol agent working security at the synagogue fired shots into the gunman's vehicle as it sped off.

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The suspect was pulled over by a San Diego police officer soon afterward. He then "jumped out with his hands up," San Diego Police Chief Davis Nislei said.

A rabbi conducting the service sustained hand injuries, and continued with his sermon, telling people to stay strong, the Los Angeles Times reported.

An older woman died from gunshot wounds, while two adult males, including the rabbi, are in stable condition at Palomar Medical Center Poway. A juvenile female was transported from the hospital to Rady Children's Hospital. "They're doing well," the sheriff's department posted on Twitter.

In an interview with MSNBC, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said the shooting "was a hate crime, and that will not stand."

The synagogue, founded in in 1986, is affiliated with Lubavitch, a branch within Orthodox Judaism's Hasidic movement.


The Poway synagogue shooting comes exactly six months to the day of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27 in which 11 parishioners died.

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