A 19-year-old man opened fire upon congregants at a Chabad synagogue during services for the last day of Passover on Saturday, in what law enforcement officials say was a hate crime — ultimately taking the lives of one woman and injuring three others.
By: Harry Cherry
The suspect, later identified as John T. Earnest, wrote in his manifest that he is a man of “European ancestry.”
“My name is John Earnest and I am a man of European ancestry,” he wrote in his digital manifest on Saturday, which has now gathered over 38,000 views on the text forum pastebin. “Truly, I am blessed by God for such a magnificent bloodline.”
Saturday’s shooting, which occurred at the Chabad in Poway, California, is the latest in a series of attacks in recent months against Jews around in the world. White nationalist Robert Bowers opened fire on congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, killing 11 people and injuring 7 others.
One woman was pronounced dead, following gunshot wounds and three other synagogue members who were shot are recovering at nearly hospitals, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said Saturday at a press conference.
Police Chief David Nisleit said that the shooter called the authorities following the shooting spree, as he attempted to flee the scene.
As he attempted to flee, an off-duty Border patrol agent, in an attempt to neutralize the threat to the local community, opened fire against Mr. Earnest, officials said.
Before entering the Chabad synagogue on Saturday, Mr. Earnest posted an anti-Semitic letter to multiple online forums, including 8-chan, which is frequented by White Nationalists and members of the alt-right.
The hate-filled documented was also posted to Pastebin, an online text-to-paste service, by Mr. Earnest under the username “johntearnest,” and has now been viewed over 38,000 times.
Mr. Earnest, in his letter filled with antisemitic remarks, racial slurs, and conspiracy theories, urged extremists to commit attacks similar in nature, recommending that they use flamethrowers rather than a gun.
“If your goal is strictly carnage and the highest score—I’d highly recommend you look into flamethrowers,” he wrote. “I had my whole life ahead of me. If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised.”
The shooter, however, claimed that he was not a supporter of President Donald Trump, citing the president’s support for Israel, and claiming that he is “anti-White” and a “traitor.”
Mr. Earnest also admitted in his letter to committing arson at the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California.
“I scorched a mosque in Escondido with gasoline a week after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice and they never found sh** on me,” he wrote.
President Trump, referencing the attack, told reporters that it was hard to believe.
“Hard to believe, hard to believe,” he told reporters at The White House. “With respect to the synagogue in California near San Diego. We’re doing some very heavy research. We’ll see what happens, what comes up. At this moment it looks like a hate crime. But my deepest sympathies to all of those affected. And we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
During a campaign-style rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Mr. Trump weighed in on the attack, saying: “America’s heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered her condolences, writing on Twitter that she stands “with the Jewish community” against Saturday’s “act of hate.”
“Coming just six months after the horrific mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we are confronted with what appears to be another anti-Semitic attack,” she said. “We all stand with the Jewish community against this act of hate.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence committee said that the nation should come together to counter the “disturbing rise of violent hatred” across America.
“Another despicable and violent act of anti-Semitism — this time at a synagogue in Poway, California at the end of Passover,” Mr. Schiff posted on Twitter. “We must act to end the scourge of gun violence and come together against the disturbing rise of violent hatred across the U.S.”
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, condemned the despicable antisemitic attack against congregants at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, California.
“Our hearts go out to their families and to the Jewish people having to endure another synagogue shooting,” he wrote on Twitter. “ZOA urges Congressional leaders to condemn this and Omar/Tlaib antisemitic remarks now.”
In a statement sent to the media, the Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA) — Igud HaRabbonim, with a membership of over 950 Orthodox Rabbis across the United States and Canada said it “extends its boundless expression of support and solidarity to the victims, their families, and the survivors of the brutal, horrendous terrorist attack that took place this Sabbath, Achron Shel Pesach, the last day of Passover, at the Chabad of Poway in San Diego, California while innocent celebrants were sitting down for a holiday meal. Sadly, the terrorist killed a woman and wounded the rabbi and two others. We condemn the evil carnage perpetrated by a malevolent and hateful individual seeking to murder innocent people gathered in celebration of faith, life and community.”
The RAA/Igud calls upon all people of goodwill to unite in prayer beseeching our Creator for His protection and to increase in acts of charity and loving-kindness to help heal our fractured society. We must gather together in prayer and good deeds to thwart this cowardice and hatred that wishes to destroy all that is good in this world. Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Chairman of the RAA presidium, asks all member rabbis to call for additional prayers to be recited immediately at all prayer services for the healing of the injured.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President of the RAA, stated that, “A hate attack on anyone is an attack on all of society. All decent people must come together to condemn such an evil act of anti-Semitism.”