Rabbi injured in synagogue shooting recounts confronting gunman
The town of Powayto begin the difficult process of healing. The Chabad of Poway congregation was marking the final day of Passover when police said 19-year-old John Earnest burst into the synagogue and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on Saturday, killing one worshipper and injuring three others. About 100 people were inside, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.
“As I turned around, I saw the face of this murderer, of this terrorist,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.
The gunman took aim at Goldstein, who was preparing to lead the service. He suffered serious injuries to his hands, losing an index finger.
“Could have gone right through my chest. Could have gone right through my heart. Both fingers,” Goldstein said, showing his hands.
Earnest fired several rounds before his gun jammed.
Earnest is being held without bail, charged with murder and attempted murder. The attack, which law enforcement believes was motivated by hate, comes exactly six months after a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“I had to look the murderer in the face… for something for me to impart to the rest of the world,” Goldstein said.
“What is that?” Begnaud asked.
“To change. It’s time for a change,” he responded. “It’s not just anti-Semitism. It’s all type of bigotry. We have lost our soul.”
Oscar Stewart saw Earnest open fire from the back of the room and ran toward him shouting. It was then Earnest ran.
“I don’t think I’m a brave person,” Steward said, tearing up. “They say I saved lives. I don’t know if I saved any lives, I just, I just did what I did.”
An off-duty border patrol agent, who had recently discovered his Jewish roots and was also at the synagogue, fired at the shooter as he drove away striking his vehicle. Authorities said Earnest ended up calling 911 and provided his location about a mile from the synagogue.
“As our officer was exiting the freeway, he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said.
The FBI is joining the investigation. Police searched the home Earnest shares with his parents. They’re also reviewing an anti-Semitic manifesto that appears to be written by the teen in which he said he was inspired by last month’s mass shooting a New Zealand mosque.
Earnest, a nursing student who has no prior criminal record, could also be charged with a hate crime. He’ll be arraigned on Wednesday, and authorities are also looking into his possible connection to an arson fire at a nearby mosque about a month ago.
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