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US synagogue attack: Woman killed by gunman ‘had shielded rabbi’

By Emily Mee, news reporter

A woman has died and three others were injured after a gunman walked into a crowded synagogue in San Diego, California, and opened fire.

The suspect, named by police as 19-year-old John Earnest, used an AR-type assault weapon to shoot at worshippers at the Chabad of Poway, according to county sheriff William Gore.

Mr Gore confirmed a woman had died from her injuries, while a girl and two men – including the synagogue's rabbi – are in hospital in a stable condition.

The Rabbi's hands suffered gunshot wounds, causing them to shatter during the shooting.

Trump: Synagogue shooting 'looks like a hate crime'

The dead woman was named by friends as Lori Kaye, 60, of Poway, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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The newspaper reported that witnesses said she jumped in front of the synagogue's rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who suffered wounds to his hands.

The Union-Tribune also said that the others injured were Noya Dahan, 8, hit with shrapnel in the face and leg, and Almong Peretz, 34, shot in the leg as he ushered children in a playroom to safety.

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Speaking from the White House, President Trump offered his "deepest sympathies" to those affected and said the shooting "looked like a hate crime".

He added that it was "hard to believe".

This attack marks exactly six months since a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people.

A police officer secures the area following a shooting at a synagogue in Poway
Image: A police officer secures the area following a shooting at a synagogue in Poway

An off-duty Border Patrol agent was believed to be inside the synagogue at the time of the latest attack and shot at the suspect as he fled.

The agent's shots did not hit the gunman, but did strike his car.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said the suspect called police to report the shooting and was arrested by a California highway patrol officer.

He got out of the car with his hands up and was taken into custody.

The officer involved described seeing a rifle sitting on the front passenger seat of the suspect's car.

Synagogue members console one another outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue
Image: The Chabad of Poway was worshipping on the last day of Passover

Early indications suggest Earnest's gun might have malfunctioned after firing numerous rounds at the synagogue.

Derryl Acosta, a spokesman for Palomar Medical Centre, said four patients were admitted to the hospital around 12.30pm local time on Saturday.

Roads in the area have been closed and crime tape is surrounding the street in front of the building.

Mr Nisleit said there is no longer a threat since a suspect has been detained, but police will be stepping up patrols at places of worship in the area as a precaution.

Authorities are investigating the suspect's possible connection to an arson at Dar-ul-Arqam mosque last month, which caused property damage but no injuries.

They said a person, who they identified as John Earnest, wrote an antisemitic screed online which contained a number of elements not to be believed, including an allegation that a YouTube star helped to plan and fund the attack.

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

A shooting at the synagogue has left at least two injured. Pic: Google Street View
Image: A shooting at the synagogue has left one woman dead. Pic: Google Street View

A Twitter user allegedly spotted the gunman's post several minutes before the attack and alerted the FBI.

They shared a picture of their computer screen and wrote: "This was posted on a radical right wing website about five minutes ago there is about to be a mass shooting. I'm trying to figure out how to report it."

A timestamp appears to show the tweet was posted a few minutes before the shooting began.

The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which suffered the deadliest attack against Jews in US history last year, said it was "heartbroken" and "appalled" by the latest shooting.

"This must stop," it added.

Minoo Anvari, a member of the Chabad of Poway synagogue, told reporters her husband was in the building at the tRead More – Source

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