The suspect in Poway, California synagogue shooting called 911 and surrendered to authorities without incident after fleeing the crime scene, where he killed a woman and injured three others on Saturday.
San Diego Sheriff William Gore identified the synagogue shooting suspect as John Earnest, a 19-year-old student at California State University San Marcos.
According to Gore, the shooter had no previous contacts will law enforcement. Investigators serve search warrants for his car and home. They are also looking into digital evidence and checking the authenticity of a manifesto, which the suspect posted online.
Additionally, the sheriff said his department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in San Diego to determine whether he suspect was involved in the arson and vandalism of a mosque in Escondido, California.
Authorities charged the suspect with one count of first degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder. He committed his horrendous act during the last day of Passover, a Jewish holiday remembering God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
California synagogue shooting was a “hate crime”
On Saturday, President Donald Trump told White House reporters, “At this moment, it looks like a hate crime. My deepest sympathies to all of those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said, “This hate crime is not who Poway is. Poway will wrap its arms around all of its community, including our Jewish brothers and sisters here at the Chabad, and we will walk with them step by step through this, and we will all be better. Our hearts are broken, and there will be a hole in our heart for the life lost, and for those that were injured and scarred, but we will get through this together.”
The suspect was a member of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The pastor of the church, Zach Keeled told CNN that Earnest was a member of the church for most of his life but he did not participate in youth or Sunday school activities. Keele condemned the suspect’s horrific behavior.
“We completely deplore what he did. It is not part of our beliefs, our practices, [and] our teachings in any way. Our hearts, our prayers, our tears go out to the victims. To all those wonderful neighbors at the synagogue, we pray for them. And it just saddens us that this horrible act of evil could come from someone we know,” said Keele.
“We believe in lifting high the love of Christ to all people — men, women, old and young from every tribe and denomination. This is a complete surprise. He was quiet, kept to himself, sweet guy. We had no idea, this is a surprise to all of us,” he added.