POWAY, Calif. – 19-year-old John Earnest was arrested Saturday on suspicion of opening fire at a San Diego County synagogue, killing one woman and injuring three other people, including a young girl.
Armed with an AR-15, Earnest went into Chabad of Poway as worshippers gathered for the final day of Passover just before noon, Sheriff Bill Gore said.
Earnest fired over a dozen rounds hitting the four victims before fleeing the synagogue.
An off-duty Border Patrol agent who had been hired to work as a synagogue security guard, chased Ernest and fired shots, according to the sheriff. Earnest was not hit, but his car had bullet holes.
Earnest called 911 to report himself, Gore said, and was arrested in Rancho Bernardo on I-15 near Rancho Bernardo Road.
Investigators gathered Saturday outside the Rancho Penasquitos home of Earnest’s family in preparation of serving search warrants on the house and his vehicle.
Earnest had no criminal record and no prior contact with law enforcement, Gore said. The suspect acted alone, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.
The suspect has no known connections to any white supremacist groups.
Earnest was booked into the San Diego Central Jail around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. He was booked into jail for one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. Earnest’s first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1.
Earnest had written a manifesto, which was being reviewed by investigators, along with his social media posts.
A person identifying themselves as John Earnest, posted an open letter suggesting he had planned Saturday’s shooting and referenced the deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue Oct. 27. Earnest also claims to have “scorched a mosque in Escondido” a week after Brenton Tarrant’s deadly rampage at Christchurch.
Sheriff Gore said investigators were looking into possible ties between Earnest and a fire at the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque on 6th Avenue in Escondido in March .
Graffiti left behind by the suspect made reference to the mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand.
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First and Second Picture Courtesy of SANDY HUFFAKER and Getty Images
Video Courtesy of YouTube and KGTV-TV San Diego