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Woman killed, 3 injured in shooting at California synagogue

Suspect identified in California synagogue shooting

What we know so far

  • At least one woman is dead, and a girl and two men including the synagogue's rabbi, were injured. 
  • The suspect has been identified as John Earnest, 19. 
  • CBS News has confirmed the name of the victim who died is Lori Gilbert-Kaye.  
  • An off-duty Border Patrol agent believed to be inside the synagogue shot at the suspect as he fled, but did not hit him. 
  • Police said the suspect is also being questioned about a possible role in a nearby mosque arson last month. 

A shooting at a synagogue outside San Diego where worshippers were celebrating the last day of Passover on Saturday left one woman dead and three others injured, authorities said. The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old John Earnest, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said.

CBS News has confirmed the name of the victim who died is Lori Gilbert-Kaye.

Earnest entered Chabad of Poway and opened fire on worshippers, police said. The weapon appeared to be an AR-15 rifle, Gore said.

Gore said an off-duty Border Patrol agent believed to be inside the synagogue shot at the suspect as he fled. The sheriff said the agent didn't hit him but struck his car.

Gore said Earnest is being investigated for a possible role in a nearby mosque arson last month. Earnest did not have a history with police prior to Saturday's shooting.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said the 19-year-old suspect called police to report the shooting and a California Highway Patrol officer heard it on a police scanner, saw the suspect and pulled him over. Nisleit said the suspect got out of his car with his hands up and he was taken into custody without incident.

Witnesses told CBS San Diego affiliate KFMB-TV the suspect showed little emotion as he was taken into custody.

A girl and two men, including the rabbi, are being treated at local hospitals. According to the trauma surgeon at Palomar Medical Center, the rabbi underwent surgery after suffering defensive wounds to his index fingers. A 34-year-old man and the girl were hit with shrapnel from bullets, authorities said. 

Synagogue Shooting-California
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Poway, Calif. Several people have been shot and injured at a synagogue in San Diego, California, on Saturday, said San Diego County authorities. AP

The shooting came exactly six months since a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.    

President Trump, on the way to a rally in Wisconsin, said "at the moment it looks like a hate crime." He also tweeted about the off-duty Border Patrol agent who stopped the suspect. 

"The Poway I know comes together," Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said at a news conference Saturday. "We always walk with our arms around each other and we will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other."

The Poway sheriff's department sent out a tweet saying the shooting occurred just before 11:30 a.m. Saturday. According to the Chabad of Poway Facebook page, the synagogue was holding a Passover celebration scheduled for 11 a.m.

Officials say San Diego County deputies were called just before 11:30 a.m. Four patients were admitted to Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital around 12:30 p.m., spokesman Derryl Acosta said.

A handful of police cars were parked outside the synagogue in the city of Poway, just over 20 miles north of San Diego. Crime tape surrounded the street in front of the building.

Passover began on April 19 and was ending Saturday.

In Pittsburgh, a truck driver who authorities say expressed hatred of Jews has been charged in the Oct. 27 rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue. He's pleaded not guilty.

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