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On April 27th, the final day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, a lone gunman entered a synagogue near San Diego and opened fire during Sabbath prayers. In the shooting, which authorities have labeled a hate crime, one person was killed and three were injured. Here are the key details about, and public reactions to, the shooting.
The suspect has been named and arrested
Local police have identified San Diego resident John Earnest, 19, as the shooter. Earnest immediately fled the synagogue by car, but he turned himself in to police not long after. Earnest, as with the New Zealand mosque shooter, posted a manifesto on the internet before his shooting. In fact, Earnest even cited the New Zealand shooter as an inspiration.
This shooting may not be Earnest’s first hate crime
In Earnest’s manifesto, he also took responsibility for a local case of mosque arson last month. San Diego County Sherriff Bill Gore told reporters that his investigators are working with the FBI to determine whether Earnest was indeed involved in an unsolved arson case from March 24th at the Islamic Center of Escondido, which is located 15 miles north of the synagogue that Earnest attacked. Nobody was harmed in the mosque arson.
The timing may not be coincidental
The April 27th synagogue shooting occurred exactly six months after a shooter killed 11 people and wounded six more at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Had Earnest’s weapon not malfunctioned after the first several rounds he fired, it’s possible he could have harmed just as many people. Currently, the Tree of Life attack stands as the single deadliest act of mass violence against Jewish people to occur on American soil.
Government leaders have spoken out against the attack
Mayor Steve Vaus of Poway, the town in which the attack occurred, did not hesitate to label the attack as a “hate crime” when speaking to reporters, as did Sherriff Gore. President Donald J. Trump also said that the attack “looks like a hate crime,” a remark that came as a surprise to some given the president’s alleged history of inciting racial violence in the U.S. Trump has also offered federal aid in investigating the shooting.
Victims have been identified
Currently, the only fatality of the Poway shooting is 60-year-old Lori Kaye. Kaye sacrificed her life to protect the synagogue’s founding rabbi, Yisrael Goldstein, who was among the three people injured. Goldstein will likely need to have his right index finger amputated.
34-year-old Almong Peretz was shot in the leg as he guided children to a playroom where they would be safe. Peretz apparently protected the children quite well — authorities did not find two of the children until 45 minutes after they first arrived at the scene of the crime. The final victim injured was 8-year-old Noya Dahan, who suffered shrapnel wounds and is recovering at a children’s hospital.
The synagogue has called for unity
According to a congregation member, Rabbi Goldstein prayed for peace and called for unity even after being shot. This congregation member, who witnessed the shooting, remembered three words the rabbi said before he was taken to the hospital: “We are united.”