Two people embrace as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy outside the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Poway, Calif. Several people have been shot and injured at a synagogue in San Diego, California, on Saturday, said San Diego County authorities. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
POWAY, Calif. – A 19-year-old man opened fire in a synagogue in the neighborhood of San Diego as worshippers celebrated on the last day of an important Jewish holiday, killing a woman and wounding three others Saturday, authorities said.
President Donald Trump and the other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months ago that 11 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in the AMERICAN history.
The man, whose name was not released, used an AR-type assault weapon to shoot believers in Chabad of Poway, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore told reporters.
A girl and two men were wounded as the Jewish community gathered for the Passover, a weeklong commemoration of the liberation of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
As the shooter fled, an off-duty Border Patrol agent in the synagogue opened fire, missing him but striking his getaway vehicle in the city of Poway is just 20 miles (32 km) north of San Diego, Gore said.
The shooter called 911 shortly afterwards to report the shooting, San Diego police chief David Nisleit said. When an officer reached the man on a roadway, “the defendant pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit said.
Gore said that he could not provide a motive, while the researchers interrogate the suspect, who is white. The authorities say that they were reviewing copies of his social media posts.
There was no known threat after the man was arrested, but the authorities have reinforced patrols on the places of worship as a precaution, police said.
Minoo Anvari, a member of the synagogue, told the media that her husband was during the shooting. She said that he called to tell her that the shooter was shouting and cursing.
She called the shooting “unbelievable” in a quiet and close-knit community.
“We are strong; you can’t break us,” she said.
Four people were taken to Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital, spokesman Derryl Acosta said. A woman died of her injuries, and a girl and two men were in stable condition, authorities said. Their names were not released.
Trump offered his sympathies Saturday, saying the shooting “looked like a hate crime” and called it “hard to believe”. The mayor of Poway also denounced what he called a hate crime.
“I want you to know that you’re not Poway,” Mayor Steve Vaus said. “We always have to walk with our arms around each other and we make a walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other.”
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he joins the community in grief.
“No one should be afraid to go to their place of worship, and no one should be targeted for the practice of the tenets of their faith,” he said.
In Pittsburgh, a truck driver who authorities say expressed hatred of the Jews has been charged in the Oct. 27 rampage on the Tree of Life synagogue. He pleaded not guilty.