At least one woman was killed and several others suffered injuries when a man opened fire at a synagogue in the Californian city of Poway on Saturday.
CNN quoted Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, who described the shooting as a possible hate crime that occurred at Congregation Chabad on the last day of Passover, one of the holiest Jewish celebrations of the year.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that the suspect in the accident has been identified as 19-year-old John Earnest.
Gore was quoted as saying that the law enforcement authorities are aware of a ‘manifesto’ that Earnest wrote and posted on Twitter shortly before the attack, and are currently reviewing the document.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the manifesto included several far-right catchphrases, including descriptions of an ‘international Jewry’ which is responsible for countless age-old blood libels, including the murder of Christ and alleged control over the media and the economy.
Within the post, he wrote, ‘Every Jew young and old has contributed to these. For these crimes they deserve nothing but hell. I will send them there.’
He also said that he hoped to inspire others to commit similar crimes to his and that he expected to be freed from prison and ‘continue the fight’.
The manifesto was full of religious imagery.
Earnest repeated throughout it that he was carrying out the attack to be a good Christian, saying ‘my god understands why I did what I did’ and quoted multiple verses from the New Testament as ‘proof’.
Derryl Acosta, a spokesman at Palomar Medical Center, was quoted as saying that the hospital received four patients from the shooting.
Vaus said the three people injured, including two men and a female juvenile, have non-life-threatening injuries, Fox News reported.
He said he considered the incident, which around 11.30 am (local time), to be a hate crime ‘because of statements that were made when the shooter entered’.
The mayor further noted that the congregation was targeted by ‘someone with hate in their heart … towards our Jewish community and that just will not stand’.
The congregation ‘took security very seriously’, he said.
“I also understand from folks on the scene that this shooter was engaged by people in the congregation and those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy,” Vaus told CNN.
Witnesses of the event were quoted as saying that Earnest was screaming and cursing when he opened fire, which was followed by six or seven gunshots.
‘No known threats however in an abundance of caution, we will be providing extra patrol at places of worship,’ San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said.
President Donald Trump also sent his deepest sympathies to the victims of San Diego shootings.
‘Thoughts and prayers to all of those affected by the shooting at the Synagogue in Poway, California. God bless you all. Suspect apprehended. Law enforcement did outstanding job,’ the President tweeted.
The President urged for the defeat of hatred and anti-semitic sentiments.
Speaking on the shootings, while addressing a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, CNN quoted the President as saying, “Tonight, Americas heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting.”
He added that the entire nation stands in solidarity with the Jewish community.
The incident comes six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh happened on the same day.
Last year on October 27, Robert Bowers stormed the synagogue, killing 11 people in what the Anti-Defamation League said was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.