Gunman told 911 ‘I just shot up a synagogue’ after attack

During the 911 call, Earnest said he killed because he was "trying to defend my nation from the Jewish people ... They're destroying our people," according to the affidavit.
Gunman told 911 ‘I just shot up a synagogue’ after attack

As the 19-year-old college student sped away in his 2012Honda Civic, he dialed 911 and said: "I just shot up a synagogue."                

He told the dispatcher that he thought he had killed somepeople and that he did it "because Jewish people are destroying the whiterace."

The chilling account in a federal affidavit unsealedThursday was the most detailed yet of a gunman's attack on a SouthernCalifornia synagogue that killed a woman and wounded three others duringPassover service last month in the San Diego suburb of Poway.

It describes a deeply disturbed man filled with hatred whoclaimed to be inspired by the attacks on the mosques in New Zealand and theshooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue last fall.

The Department of Justice filed 109 hate crime and othercharges against the suspect, John T. Earnest, who could face the death penalty.The federal charges include murder for the killing of 60-year-old Lori Kaye,who was hit twice as she prayed in the foyer of the synagogue. It also includescharges for the attempted murder of 53 others.

In a court appearance last month, Earnest pleaded not guiltyto state charges of murder and attempted murder and in a separate case to anarson charge tied to a mosque fire.

During the 911 call, Earnest said he killed because he was"trying to defend my nation from the Jewish people … They're destroyingour people," according to the affidavit.

He then told the dispatcher where he was at, that he wouldsurrender to authorities and leave his semi-automatic rifle in the car. He alsosaid he was wearing a chest rig with additional ammunition, which thedispatcher asked him to remove.

Shortly after that, police arrested Earnest.

Police would later learn it was not the first attack on ahouse of worship by the suspect, according to the affidavit.

The nursing student and gifted pianist had tried weeksearlier to burn down a nearby mosque in Escondido, where seven people on aspiritual retreat were sleeping, according to the affidavit. They awoke toflames licking at the door and managed to extinguish the fire, which charred awall.

Outside the mosque, the suspect had scrawled the name of theman accused of carrying out shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that killed50 people.

In his online postings, Earnest said he was inspired bythose attacks and the one last fall on the Tree of Life synagogue inPittsburgh, and boasted about how "easy" it is to burn down or shootup a mosque, synagogue, immigration center, or "traitorous"politicians, according to court documents.

A copy of the web posting of the New Zealand suspect BrentonTarrant was found on his laptop, authorities say.

A month after his failed attempt to burn down the mosque,authorities say, Earnest bought an AR-15 rifle from a licensed dealer in SanDiego. The next day, a Saturday, marked the last day of Passover, a majorJewish holiday.

Just as the service was getting started, Earnest pulled upto the synagogue in his Honda Civic and walked in firing his AR-15, which wasfully loaded with a 10-round magazine.

Kaye fell to the ground. Then Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whowas leading the service, was shot as he rushed to get the children out,including his own grandchildren.

Also hit by shrapnel were an 8-year-old girl and her uncle.

The shooter emptied his magazine and stopped as he struggledto reload it, according to the affidavit. That's when several members of thecongregation, including an off-duty Border Patrol agent, chased Earnest fromthe synagogue.

His family has said they will not pay for his defense andthat he represents none of the values they taught him and are stunned at hisembrace of white supremacy.

Authorities said Earnest frequented dark corners of the webthat often post extremist, racist and violent views. In his online postings, hesaid, "As an individual, I can only kill so many Jews." The Chabad ofPoway applauded the federal charges Thursday but said more must be done toprevent people from being led astray by such hatred.

"We are grateful to our country's dedicated lawenforcement authorities for taking the appropriate measures to ensure thesafety and wellbeing of its citizens," the synagogue said in a statement."As a society we must surely focus on the preventive measure of instillingin our youth a sense of personal accountability to a Higher Being, in whoseimage every human being was created."

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com