A gunman killed one woman and injured three others in a synagogue in San Diego, United States, on Saturday. The police said the suspect, identified as 19-year-old John Earnest, surrendered after first fleeing the crime scene in a car, Reuters reported.
The injured include a rabbi, a 34-year-old man and a girl. The incident occurred as the Jewish devotees were observing the last day of the Passover.
President Donald Trump and Poway Major Steve Vaus described the incident as a hate crime. Police officials said they are investigating Earnest’s social media activity to ascertain if he is the author of an anti-Semitic “open letter” published online. The author of the letter posted on the online forum 8chan hours before the attack identified himself as John Earnest and claimed that he was inspired by the attack on two mosques in New Zealand in March as well as the Pittsburg shooting.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said the police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were investigating Earnest’s “possible involvement” in an unsolved arson on March 24 at the Islamic Center of Escondido. The site of the arson attack is 24 km away from the synagogue. “It’s being investigated as a homicide, but we are also looking at the hate crime possible violation as well as federal civil rights violations,” Gore said.
Gore said Earnest had “no prior criminal record.”
The attack in San Diego took place exactly six months after a gunman killed 11 people and wounded six others at a synagogue in Pennsylvania in the United States in October 2018. The assailant had stormed the Tree of Life synagogue shouting “All Jews must die” as he fired his weapon. He surrendered later and was arrested.
Meanwhile, United States Donald Trump expressed his “deepest sympathies” with those affected by the attack. “It looks like a hate crime,” Reuters quoted Trump as saying.