Family of Suspected Synagogue Shooter Condemns ‘Evil and Despicable Act’

The family of synagogue shooting suspect John Earnest, 19, condemned his alleged actions as “evil and despicable” in a statement on Monday.

“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” the family’s statement began. “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold. Like our other five children, he was raised in a family, a faith, and a community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do. How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, though we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of that path that he took to this evil and despicable act.”

They say they are cooperating with investigators, and they ask the media and public for privacy at this time.

“Our heavy hearts will forever go out to the victims, and the survivors,” they said.

Deputies in San Diego, California said that they got a call about someone opening fire with an assault-style rifle at the Chabad of Poway synagogue on Saturday.  Three people were injured: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 8-year-old Noya Dahan, and 34-year-old Almong Peretz. Goldstein and others said that 60-year-old Lori Kaye was killed. Witnesses said she died saving Goldstein.

Deputies later identified Earnest as the suspect. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder, and three counts of first-degree attempted murder. They said Sunday that there is no indication that he belonged to an organized group. The incident remains under investigation, and they are also looking into whether Earnest was involved in the arson and vandalism of a mosque in Escondido, California.

Authorities also credited Oscar Stewart with chasing after the fleeing suspect. They added that an off-duty Border Patrol agent also caught up to Earnest’s vehicle, told Stewart to get out of the way, and fired at the vehicle. The agent has been identified as Jonathan Morales. Goldstein said in a press conference Sunday that the Border Patrol official had recently discovered his Jewish roots.

Earnest was arrested without incident, authorities said. Investigators have yet to publicly confirm this, but a purported manifesto reportedly posted online under his name said that he hated Jewish people, and that he claimed to have committed arson at the Escondido mosque. It’s unclear if Earnest has an attorney at this time.

[Screengrab via NBC News]

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