One dead, three injured in shooting at US synagogue | News | DW | 27.04.2019
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One dead, three injured in shooting at US synagogue

A shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California has left one woman dead and three others injured. A 19-year-old man has been detained and police are determining the legitimacy of an anti-Semitic letter he allegedly wrote.

A shooting on Saturday at a synagogue outside San Diego where worshippers were celebrating the last day of Passover has left one woman dead, authorities said. A girl and two men, including the rabbi of the synagogue, were injured.

Authorities in Poway, California, said the extent of the injuries was unclear.

San Diego County deputies were called to the scene at the Chabad of Poway just before 11:30 a.m. and the four injured were admitted to Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital about 12:30 p.m., hospital spokesman Derryl Acosta said.

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at a news conference that a white man entered Chabad of Poway on Saturday and opened fire on worshippers with an AR-type assault weapon.

Gore said an off-duty Border Patrol agent believed to be inside the synagogue shot at the suspect as he fled. The agent did not hit him but struck his car.

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Police approach a house thought to belong to the 19-year-old suspect (picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Gibbins)

Police approach a house thought to belong to the 19-year-old suspect

Suspect in custody

Authorities said they had detained one man and that there was no known further threat. They said the attack was being investigated as a hate crime.

Gore did not provide a motive for the suspect — a 19-year-old San Diego resident — saying only that authorities were examining his social media activity and establishing the legitimacy of an anti-Semitic open letter published online hours before the attack. The text's author celebrates the recent deadly shootings at mosques in New Zealand and at Pittburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, and claims to have lit a fire at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month. The blaze caused damage but no injuries. 

"We have copies of his social media posts and his open letter and we'll be reviewing those to determine the legitimacy of it and how it plays in to the investigation," he said.

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San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said the suspect called police to report the shooting and a California Highway Patrol officer heard it on a police scanner, saw the suspect and pulled him over.

Nisleit said the suspect got out of his car with his hands up and he was taken into custody.

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'Evil of anti-Semitism and hate must be defeated'

US President Donald Trump offered his "deepest sympathies to the families of those affected" by the shooting.

At the White House, Trump said that the shooting "looked like a hate crime" and called it "hard to believe," before flying to a rally in Wisconsin. 

"Tonight, America's heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in California, just happened," he later told supporters at the rally.

"Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate which must be defeated."

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter: "We are once again faced with appalling reports of an anti-Semitic hate crime. The attack on the Chabad of Polway synagogue is an attack on all of us. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the deceased and with the wounded."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the shooting was "yet another painful reminder that anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews is still with us, everywhere."

"No country and no society are immune. Only through education for Holocaust remembrance and tolerance can we deal with this  plague," he said in a statement.

'Enough is enough'

Saturday's shooting came exactly six months after a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed.

"It was only six months ago to the day that we became members of that tragic club of community-based shootings to which no one wants to belong," Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue said in a statement.

"We know first-hand the fear, anguish and healing process such an atrocity causes, and our hearts are with the afflicted San Diego families and their congregation," the statement read. "These senseless acts of violence and prejudice must end. Enough is enough!"

law/se (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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