Deadly shooting at California synagogue

By Harmeet Kaur, Nicole Chavez and Christina Kline, CNN

Updated 5:07 p.m. ET, May 1, 2019
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12:05 p.m. ET, April 28, 2019

What we know about the victims of the shooting

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Hollie Silverman

Lori Kaye was killed in a shooting at Congregation Chabad on the last day of Passover.
Lori Kaye was killed in a shooting at Congregation Chabad on the last day of Passover. Audrey Jacobs

Lori Kaye, 60, was fatally shot at the synagogue when she jumped between the shooter and the rabbi.

She had attended services Saturday to say a Kaddish prayer for her mother, who died in November, a friend said.

Three people were also injured in the shooting:

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, had been shot in the hand when Kaye stepped between him and the gunman. The rabbi suffered what looked like defensive wounds to both of his index fingers, a doctor at the Palomar Medical Center said.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway synagogue
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway synagogue

Noya Dahan, 9, was at the synagogue with her two sisters and was injured by shrapnel, her father said.

Noya Dahan was injured in the shooting.
Noya Dahan was injured in the shooting.

Almog Peretz, 34, was injured by shrapnel while trying to protect his niece, the girl's father said. He was visiting from Israel for Passover and was attending Saturday service with his family when the shooting happened, a congregation member said.

Almog Peretz was injured in the shooting.
Almog Peretz was injured in the shooting.

11:53 a.m. ET, April 28, 2019

Mayor says preparations after Pittsburgh shooting saved lives in Poway

Safety discussions after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh six months ago likely saved lives on Saturday, Mayor Steve Vaus told CNN's Nick Watt.

"Just a few days after the Tree of Life Massacre in Pittsburgh we came together here with the Rabbi and his congregants ... and not only memorialized the victims of Pittsburgh but we talked about how to minimize future tragedies," Vaus said.

"And I have no doubt that saved lives yesterday."

Vaus also commended the courage of the congregants.

"I heard a story about a man that whisked children out to safety. Others covered their fellow congregants with their own bodies. That's the community of Poway that I want the world to know about," he said.

Vaus described the Poway community as multi-religious, noting that the city had a synagogue, a Greek Orthodox church and a Presbyterian church.

"This is a community that -- faith binds us together," he said.

11:10 a.m. ET, April 28, 2019

European Jewish Congress calls the shooting 'a very worrying trend in antisemitism in the US'

From CNN's James Masters

The European Jewish Congress condemned the shooting at the Congregation Chabad, calling it “a very worrying trend in antisemitism in the US.”

“This, coupled with the horrifically antisemitic caricature in the New York Times over the weekend and the repeated attempts by local political leaders to diminish, belittle and even in some instances, justify antisemitism, means that sadly the U.S. is moving towards European levels of antisemitism,” EJC president Moshe Kantor said in a statement.

Kantor was referring to a cartoon that ran in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday. Times opinion editors apologized for the cartoon on Twitter, saying it included anti-Semitic tropes and was offensive.

“We have learned the hard way in Europe that extremism, whether Left or Right, is connected in its disdain for Jews and one continually feeds off the other," Kantor added.

"We call on all leaders of the world to take the fight against antisemitism more seriously and clamp down on those who spread hate because eventually it becomes a problem for society as a whole."

10:54 a.m. ET, April 28, 2019

Suspect accused of murder and attempted murder

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

The 19-year-old accused of opening fire at a synagogue in California has been booked into San Diego Central Jail on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Inmate Website.

The suspect, John Earnest, was booked into jail early Sunday, according to the website. The site also says that he is scheduled for arraignment on May 1 at 1:30 p.m. PST.

10:38 p.m. ET, April 27, 2019

Authorities believe suspect acted alone

The suspect in the California synagogue shooting acted alone, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

"The Sheriff's Department would like to assure our communities that there are no known threats to religious gatherings," the department said in a statement. "We encourage our communities to continue with scheduled events and other activities as normal."

Authorities are encouraging anyone with information about potential threats to report them to law enforcement.

10:15 p.m. ET, April 27, 2019

Suspect is a student at Cal State University San Marcos

From Artemis Moshtaghian

Suspect John Earnest is a California State University San Marcos student, the university's president said.

President Karen S. Hayness said in a letter to students and staff that the university is working with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department "to assist and gain more information” on Earnest.

"We are heartbroken by this tragedy, which was motivated by hate and anti-Semitism," she wrote.
"As a university community we know that our diversity make us stronger. Today’s reprehensible actions do not define us. They never will. We stand united against hatred as we work toward a better, more peaceful world.”
10:22 p.m. ET, April 27, 2019

Rabbi 'most likely' to lose index finger, doctor says

From CNN's Steve Almasy

The 57-year-old rabbi at Congregation Chabad in Poway suffered what looked like defensive wounds to both of his index fingers during the shooting.

"He will likely lose his right index finger," said Dr. Michael Katz, a trauma surgeon at Palomar Medical Center Poway.

Katz said the hospital received four patients from the shooting. One of them, a 60-year-old woman, died at the hospital.

The two other victims, a 34-year-old man and a girl, had shrapnel injuries. The girl, whose age was not given, was wounded in one leg and in the face. She was transferred to a children's hospital and will be monitored overnight.

10:17 p.m. ET, April 27, 2019

Authorities are investigating an open letter that may be connected to the suspect

From Artemis Moshtaghian

Authorities are aware of an open letter posted online by the 19-year-old suspect identified as John Earnest in the San Diego-area synagogue shooting, Sheriff Bill Gore said in a press conference.

Gore said they are “collecting digital evidence” and are in the process of reviewing the online content “to determine its validity and authenticity.”

CNN has read through an open letter posted to the anonymous message board 8chan before the shooting at Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway on Saturday morning. In the open letter, someone identifying as 19-year-old John Earnest references killing Jewish people without making actual reference to Poway or the synagogue involved in the shooting.

In the open letter, Earnest talks about planning the attack and references other attacks on houses of worship, including the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh as well the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. Earnest also talks about his disdain for Jews and claims responsibility for a mosque fire in Escondido a week and a half after the attacks in Christchurch.

According to a flyer released by Escondido Police Department, authorities are investigating an arson incident that took place at the Islamic Center of Escondido on March 24. San Diego Sheriff's Department is also investigating whether Earnest was involved in the arson attack. 

The open letter is structured in a similar fashion to the manifesto linked to Christchurch attack suspect Brenton Tarrant, replete with a question-and-answer section in which Earnest answers general questions about his character, political affiliation and motivation for carrying out the alleged shooting.

9:34 p.m. ET, April 27, 2019

Mayor says attack could have been worse but worshippers were 'proactive'

From CNN's Sara Sidner

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said worshippers at the San Diego-area synagogue had learned safety protocols and learn how to respond during a shooting when police and local officials visited the synagogue last month.

I think this could’ve been far, far worse but they were being proactive, they were ready," Vaus said. "I think that saved a lot more bloodshed and loss of life."

Vaus said President Donald Trump called him to offer his condolences following the shooting. In addition, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also reached out to express his sorrow and noted that it was only six months ago that his city suffered a similar attack, Vaus said.