1 Dead, 3 Injured in San Diego-Area Synagogue Shooting

on Apr28
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Emotional gatherings with messages of peace and love were held across San Diego County in the hours following a shooting at a synagogue’s Passover celebration that left a woman dead and a rabbi and two others injured. 

“There’s no better response to evil and hatred in this world than to gather and say ‘no,'” said Pastor Mark McKone-Sweet, who led a vigil Sunday night at the Rancho Bernardo Community Church in North County San Diego.

McKone-Sweet’s parish, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, is feet away from where a man with a rifle opened fire on a crowd of people celebrating the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway. 

About 1,000 people of different faiths, including Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, gathered for the vigil that was organized in less than six hours via social media. Attendees shared messages of love and sang messages of hope; “We are not afraid,” one song repeated. 

The pastor’s message: Love will conquer everything regardless of faith.

“It’s so important that we stand with each other and we share our values and we share the love that unites us and not that divides us,” Temple Adat Shalom Cantor Lori Wilinsky Frank said. 

A second vigil was held at Hoyt Park in Scripps Ranch and, on Sunday, a gathering was planned by Indivisible San Diego, at the synongogue where the shooting occurred to stand in solidarity with the congregation. 

Outside the synagogue, a growing memorial of flowers and signs was juxtaposed next to lines of yellow police tape, which blocked worshipers and visitors from approaching the building where, just before noon Saturday, a man with a rifle entered the synagogue and opened fire on the people inside, fatally shooting one person and injuring three others.

Law enforcement identified the woman who died as 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye. The injured were identified as 57-year-old Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein and 34-year-old Almog Peretz. An eight-year-old girl injured in the shooting was not named. 

Goldstein suffered injuries to index fingers, which trauma surgeon Michael Katz, M.D. said was “the largest injury” of the three surviving victims.

All patients were released from the hospital Sunday afternoon, according to 

A suspect, later identified as 19-year-old John T. Earnest, a graduate of Mount Carmel High School and a student at Cal State San Marcos, was taken into custody approximately two miles away from the synagogue.

Earnest does not have a criminal history and has no apparent connection with white supremacist groups, according to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. 

The sheriff’s department prepared search warrants Saturday for the Earnest residence, his vehicle and for the synagogue in Poway. They were also collecting digital evidence and were aware of his manifesto, Gore said. 

Officials have not released a possible motive for the shooting. 

Mayor Steve Vaus called the shooting a hate crime and was visibly upset at the tragedy in his community during the vigil at Rancho Bernardo Community Church. 

Vaus said he received a phone call from President Donald Trump expressing condolences and offering support. 

A GoFundMe page was created Saturday night to raise money to help pay for “any necessary medical operations for the victims, funeral services, synagogue reparations or anything else the synagogue would need assistance with.”

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