A 19-year-old man opened fire inside a synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday, killing a woman and wounding three others, authorities say.
President Donald Trump and other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack on Saturday, exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in US history.
The man, whose name has not been released, used an AR-type assault weapon to shoot worshippers at Chabad of Poway, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore told reporters.
A girl and two men were wounded as the Jewish congregation gathered for Passover, a week-long commemoration of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
As the shooter fled, an off-duty Border Patrol agent inside the synagogue opened fire, missing him but striking his getaway vehicle in the city of Poway, 32km north of San Diego, Gore said.
The gunman called 911 shortly after to report the shooting, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said. When an officer reached the man on a roadway, “the suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody”.
Gore said he couldn’t provide a motive while investigators interrogate the suspect, who is white. Authorities were reviewing copies of his social media posts.
There was no known threat after the man was detained, but authorities boosted patrols at places of worship as a precaution, police said.
Minoo Anvari, a member of the synagogue, told media outlets that her husband was inside during the shooting. She said he called to tell her the shooter was shouting and cursing.
She called the shooting “unbelievable” in a peaceful and tight-knit community.
“We are strong; you can’t break us.”
Four people were brought to Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital, spokesman Derryl Acosta said.
A woman died of her wounds, and a girl and two men were in stable condition, authorities said.
Trump offered his sympathies on Saturday, saying the shooting “looked like a hate crime” and calling it “hard to believe.” The mayor of Poway also denounced what he called a hate crime.
“I want you know to you this is not Poway,” Mayor Steve Vaus said. “We always walk with our arms around each other and we will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other.”
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said he joins the community in grief.
“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship, and no one should be targeted for practising the tenets of their faith,” he said.
In Pittsburgh, a truck driver who authorities say expressed hatred of Jews has been charged in the October 27 rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue. He has pleaded not guilty.
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