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1 Dead In San Diego Synagogue Shooting

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to with news out of Poway, Calif., near San Diego, where there's been a shooting at a synagogue. One person has been killed, and three more people were injured. The shooting took place at the Chabad of Poway. And we should mention that today is the last day of Passover. President Trump addressed the shooting earlier today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: At this moment, it looks like a hate crime. But my deepest sympathies to all of those affected. And we'll get to the bottom of it.

MARTIN: Priya Sridhar is a reporter with member station KPBS in San Diego. She's been reporting at the scene, where San Diego Police just briefed reporters. And she's with us right now.

Priya, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

PRIYA SRIDHAR, BYLINE: Thank you.

MARTIN: What new information did we learn from the latest press briefing?

SRIDHAR: Right. So we just heard from the sheriff of San Diego, who was actually able to identify the suspect that's in custody right now and being questioned. They identified him as John T. Earnest. He's a 19-year-old white male from San Diego with no criminal record. Currently, the authorities are working to get search warrants for his residence, his vehicle and the synagogue. They were also able to give us an update on the victims.

As you mentioned, there is one adult female who is dead. One adult man is actually in surgery right now at the Palomar Medical Center. One adult male is in stable condition there. And one juvenile female has now been transported to a children's hospital nearby. The sheriff did say that they are investigating this as a hate crime with assistance from the FBI and the San Diego Police Department.

Now, they are aware of a digital manifesto. And they're working to confirm the legitimacy of that. In that manifesto - or the sheriff also said that there is digital evidence where the suspect also claimed that he was involved in a recent incidence of arson at a mosque in a nearby town of Escondido. So now they're also working with Escondido Police to see if the suspect was possibly involved in that arson at the mosque.

MARTIN: Priya, tell us more, if you would, about how the community is reacting to this. I mean, I think that many people will remember that there was a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue just six months ago. And it was a very traumatic experience, also at a day of worship. Can you just talk about how people are reacting to this?

SRIDHAR: Absolutely. And actually, this particular synagogue held a vigil after the Pittsburgh shooting. And hundreds of people from this community attended that. There's actually also a church next door to the synagogue. And the San Diego Police Department and the sheriff's department have stepped up patrols at all the houses of worship in this area.

So needless to say, people are in shock right now, especially as they're learning more details about exactly what happened. There was actually an off-duty Customs and Border Protection agent who happened to be inside the synagogue at the time of the shooting. He tried to shoot at the suspect, didn't actually, you know, make contact with the suspect but did make contact with his vehicle. The suspect then actually called the California Highway Patrol and said that he was involved in the shooting.

Meanwhile, a canine San Diego Police officer happened to be listening to dispatch, was able to make it to the scene and pulled the suspect over. And at that point, he came out voluntarily. And they were able to find a rifle on the passenger seat. The sheriff did confirm that it was an assault weapon, an AR-15, they said. So obviously, as the details of this shooting are unfolding to the community, they're even more shocked that this could have happened right down the road. This is a very suburban community, a residential area. And there isn't even a lot of traffic, really, that kind of crosses in this area.

MARTIN: That's Priya Sridhar. She's a reporter with member station KPBS in San Diego. She's been reporting on the situation all day. Thank you for joining us. Priya, thank you so much for sharing your reporting with us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.