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Police investigating Poway attack as hate crime

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 28, 2019 - Duration: 02:16s

Police investigating Poway attack as hate crime

A 19-year-old man who authorities said gave himself up to police shortly after carrying out a deadly shooting in a Southern California synagogue filled with Sabbath worshippers is also under investigation for a mosque arson.

Chris Dignam has more.

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Police investigating Poway attack as hate crime

Authorities on Sunday said police are investigating the deadly shooting in a Southern California synagogue as a hate crime, and said the man accused of carrying out that attack is also under investigation for a mosque arson.

Police identified the suspect as 19-year-old John Earnest of San Diego, the apparent author of a rambling, violently anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim "manifesto" who claimed to have set a nearby mosque on fire last month and said he was inspired by the gunman who killed 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand.

Authorities say Earnest walked into the suburban synagogue late Saturday morning - the last day of Passover - and opened fire with an military-style assault rifle, killing one woman inside and wounding three others, including the congregation's rabbi.

(SOUNDBITE) MICHAEL KATZ, M.D., SAYING: "Rabbi Goldstein sustained what is most likely a defensive wound, where he has injuries to both index fingers.

He will most likely lose his right index finger.

There was a 34-year-old male who received some shrapnel injury and the minor also received shrapnel injury to the leg as well as the face." The minor is an 8-year-old Israeli girl and the 34-year-old male is her uncle.

Their family had moved to the United States in search of a safer life after their home near the Gaza Strip was hit several times by Palestinian rocket attacks.

After the shooting, police say Earnest fled in a car, escaping an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot at the getaway vehicle but missed the suspect, who - a short time later - pulled over and surrendered to police.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Earnest has no prior criminal record.

Saturday's shooting unfolded six months to the day after 11 worshippers were killed and six others wounded in an attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On Saturday night, mourners there held a vigil for the victims on the other side of the country.

The Passover attack comes amid an upsurge in reports of anti-Semitism nationwide and abroad and followed a recent spate of deadly attacks on places of worship around the world, including the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and the suicide bombings during Easter Sunday services at several churches in Sri Lanka.

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