John Earnest is a 19-year-old San Diego man who is accused of shooting four people, killing one, at Chabad of Poway synagogue in California before he was arrested. Earnest posted a 4,000-word anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and white supremacist manifesto he wrote and published online before the shooting and said in a post on 8chan that he would be live streaming the attack, but no video of the shooting has emerged. A Facebook page he linked to in the post has been deactivated.
Witnesses said the gunman was yelling that Jews were “ruining the world,” before opening fire, The New York Times reports. He shot and killed a 60-year-old woman and wounded a rabbi, a 34-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl, police said. A witness said Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was speaking to congregants in the lobby of the Chabad when the gunman opened fire. The shooter then fled. “He was a coward,” the witness, Oscar Stewart, told The Times.
Lori Gilbert Kaye has been identified by friends as the woman killed in the shooting The 60-year-old woman is being remembered as a hero after witnesses say she jumped in front of Rabbi Goldstein to protect him after he was wounded. She was then shot and killed. “Let everyone know Lori Kaye saved me,” Goldstein said while being taken into surgery, according to Kaye’s friend, Audrey Jacobs.
“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life. Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter,” Jacobs wrote.
John T. Earnest was taken into custody by police a few blocks away from the synagogue after the shooting, which Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has called a “hate crime.” He fled from the scene after an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was working as a security guard at the synagogue shot at him. At least 100 people were inside the synagogue. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the victims of the shooting.
Earnest was being interviewed by detectives after he was taken into custody and has since been booked into the San Diego Central Jail. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 1 at 1:30 p.m. local time. Earnest has no prior arrest record and the FBI said there had been no reports about him made before the shooting. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said they are investigating the case as a homicide and are also looking into the possibility of hate crime charges and federal civil rights violations.
The shooting occurred on the final day of Passover and exactly six months to the day of when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 worshippers and wounding several others. The accused shooter in that mass shooting was arrested. He was motivated by his anti-Semitic views, according to investigators.
Earnest said in his manifesto that he was inspired by the Tree of Life gunman along with the New Zealand mosque shooter, who killed 50 people in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know about John Earnest and the Chabad of Poway shooting: