A woman has died and a rabbi was injured after a white supremacist opened fire inside a Poway, California Shul filled with people celebrating the last day of Pesach. A suspect was taken into custody approximately two miles away from the shul while three patients were rushed to a nearby hospital.
The gunman, 19-year-old John Earnest, armed with an assault-type rifle, entered Chabad of Poway on Rancho Bernardo Road, west of Interstate 15 at 11:23 a.m. and opened fire on the people inside, law enforcement officials said.
Poway is about 22 miles north of San Diego.
A Border Patrol agent inside the synagogue fired at Earnest, missing him, but struck his getaway vehicle. Earnest called 911 after the shooting and identified himself as the shooter, authorities said.
It is unclear why the suspect fled but it is possible his gun might have malfunctioned, the sheriff added.
The Chabad rabbi’s name for Tehillim is Yisroel ben Chana Priva.
Authorities also said Earnest had posted an anti-Jewish screed online and was being investigated in connection with an arson that caused damage to a mosque in nearby Escondido last month. No injuries were reported in that fire.
He was booked into San Diego Central Jail early Sunday on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Inmate Website.
According to several media reports, the lone fatality, 60 year-old Lori Kaye, was killed after stepping between the Rabbi and the gunman in an attempt to shield him.
One of the wounded, Almog Peretz, 34, is being praised as a hero for saving several children.
“He grabbed all the kids in his hands and was just running towards the exit (when) he saw another kid over there,” a witness told FOX 5 San Diego. “He grabbed him and started running and (that’s when) the shooter shot him in the leg. He didn’t care. He kept on running with the kids and just ran out.”
A eight-year-old girl was also injured.
All of the injured are expected to survive.
Updated at 10:34 a.m.