Two weeks before a man walked into a Poway, California, synagogue and shot four people, killing one, an arsonist tried to burn down a nearby mosque. The same man likely committed both action.
In a 4,000-word manifesto reportedly posted online by the synagogue shooter, a 19-year old San Diego man named John Earnest who was taken into custody on suspicion of committing the synagogue killing, claimed responsibility for the mosque arson in the nearby town of Escondido. He had done the arson in honor, he said, of Branton Tarrant who had recently killed 50 Muslims in New Zealand. “I scorched a mosque in Escondido with gasoline a week after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice and they never found shit on me,” he wrote in his manifesto.
The rabbi was celebrating the last day of Passover with his congregants at Chabad of Poway when the gunman in a green army-style vest, armed with a semiautomatic weapon, burst in and began shooting the Jews inside.
Voices screeched, “Hide yourself! Shooting! Shooting!” A 60-year-old woman was killed when she jumped in front of the rabbi, whose hands were pierced by gunfire.
The attack was described by some of the 100 worshipers who were inside the synagogue celebrating one of the holidays in Judaism.
As police across the state boosted patrols around synagogues, the small city of Poway’s tightknit Jewish community was reeling.