San Diego synagogue shooting: Woman killed after 'teenager opens fire' on worshippers celebrating Passover

Three receiving hospital treatment, as 19-year-old John Earnest identified as prime suspect

San Diego synagogue shooting: Sheriff says 'individual was with a AR-type assault weapon'

A man opened fire in a synagogue in the city of Poway, just outside San Diego, leaving one woman dead and three other people injured, authorities in southern California have said.

The shooting began at the Chabad of Poway synagogue just before 11.30am on Saturday. County sheriff William Gore said a white man had opened fire on worshippers with an AR-type assault weapon.

Authorities have identified the suspect in a shooting as John Earnest. They said he was also being investigated in a fire at a mosque in a nearby city last month.

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore told reporters that the 19-year-old had no prior arrests. He is accused of killing a woman and wounding three others.

He confirmed confirmed that a woman died from her injuries, although he did not name her. A girl and two men were in hospital in a stable condition, he said.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the man conducting the Passover service, was among those shot and suffered hand injuries, a witness told the KGTV news channel.

The city's police chief David Nisleit said the suspect called them to report the shooting and was subsequently arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer. Mr Nisleit said the suspect got out of his car with his hands up and was taken into custody without incident.

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

Investigators were looking into Mr Earnest's possible connection to an arson that caused property damage at Dar-ul-Arqam mosque last month but no injuries.

A person who said they are John Earnest wrote an anti-Jewish screed online that contained some elements not to be believed, like an allegation a YouTube star helped plan and fund the attack.

Synagogue members stand outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue following shooting

The post says he was in nursing school and cited the suspects accused of carrying out deadly attacks on mosques New Zealand and Pittsburgh synagogue last year.

Donald Trump has offered “deepest sympathies to the families of those affected” by the shooting. Speaking from the White House’s south lawn before flying to a rally in Wisconsin, the president said that it “looked like a hate crime” and called it “hard to believe”.

Trump: Synagogue shooting looks like a hate crime

Mayor of Poway Steve Vaus said: “We are grateful to those in the congregation there that engaged the shooter and prevented this from being a much more horrific incident.”

Derryl Acosta, a spokesman for Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital, said four patients had been admitted around 12.30pm on Saturday.

Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee who said her husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. “We are united. You can’t break us,” said Mr Anvari.

A man who lives nearby, Christopher Folts, said on CNN he heard six to seven gunshots, then a man yelling, followed by six to seven more shots.

The Chabad of Poway was worshipping on the last day of Passover, exactly six months since 11 people were gunned down at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue - the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.

Robert Bowers, a truck driver who authorities said expressed hatred of Jews has been charged in connection with the killings.

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He has pleaded not guilty to the 27 October rampage.

Passover, otherwise known as Pesach in Hebrew, is regarded as one of the most important festivals in Judaism, celebrating the liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. Traditionally observed for eight days, it ends this year on the evening of Saturday 27 April with a final Passover meal.

Additional reporting by agencies

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