John Earnest is a 19-year-old San Diego man who is accused of shooting four people, killing one, at Chabad of Poway synagogue in California before he was arrested. Earnest posted a 4,000-word anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and white supremacist manifesto he wrote and published online before the shooting and said in a post on 8chan that he would be live streaming the attack, but no video of the shooting has emerged. A Facebook page he linked to in the post has been deactivated.
Witnesses said the gunman was yelling that Jews were “ruining the world,” before opening fire, The New York Times reports. He shot and killed a 60-year-old woman and wounded a rabbi, a 34-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl, police said. A witness said Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was speaking to congregants in the lobby of the Chabad when the gunman opened fire. The shooter then fled. “He was a coward,” the witness, Oscar Stewart, told The Times.
Lori Gilbert Kaye has been identified by friends as the woman killed in the shooting The 60-year-old woman is being remembered as a hero after witnesses say she jumped in front of Rabbi Goldstein to protect him after he was wounded. She was then shot and killed. “Let everyone know Lori Kaye saved me,” Goldstein said while being taken into surgery, according to Kaye’s friend, Audrey Jacobs.
“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life. Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter,” Jacobs wrote.
John T. Earnest was taken into custody by police a few blocks away from the synagogue after the shooting, which Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has called a “hate crime.” He fled from the scene after an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was working as a security guard at the synagogue shot at him. At least 100 people were inside the synagogue. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the victims of the shooting.
Earnest was being interviewed by detectives after he was taken into custody and has since been booked into the San Diego Central Jail. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 1 at 1:30 p.m. local time. Earnest has no prior arrest record and the FBI said there had been no reports about him made before the shooting. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said they are investigating the case as a homicide and are also looking into the possibility of hate crime charges and federal civil rights violations.
The shooting occurred on the final day of Passover and exactly six months to the day of when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 worshippers and wounding several others. The accused shooter in that mass shooting was arrested. He was motivated by his anti-Semitic views, according to investigators.
Earnest said in his manifesto that he was inspired by the Tree of Life gunman along with the New Zealand mosque shooter, who killed 50 people in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know about John Earnest and the Chabad of Poway shooting:
1. Police Say Earnest Opened Fire With an AR-15 Inside the Synagogue, Fled After the Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Shot at Him & Was Arrested After Calling 911 Himself
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Chabad of Poway for a report of a shooting about 11:23 a.m. on April 27, Sheriff Bill Gore said at a press conference. Gore said a suspect now identified as John Earnest, 19, armed with an “AR-type assault weapon opened fire on the people inside the synagogue.” Witnesses reported hearing several shots.
Four people were wounded and taken to Palomar Hospital, where one of the victims, Lori Kaye Gilbert, later died, Gore said. The other three victims are in stable condition. Gore said the three surviving victims are a juvenile female and two adult males. One of the adult male victims was undergoing surgery, Gore said. According to witnesses and members of the synagogue, one of the men who was shot was Rabbi Yisorel Goldstein, who founded the Chabad in 1986. Goldstein was shot in the hand and continued to help other members of the community despite his wound, witnesses said.
It was not immediately clear why the suspect left the synagogue. But Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, told CNN, “I also understand from folks on the scene that this shooter was engaged by people in the congregation and those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy.”
There is some indication the suspect’s gun “might have malfunctioned after firing numerous rounds,” Gore said.
“As the suspect was fleeing the temple, an off-duty Border Patrol agent opened fire on the suspect, but apparently did not hit him, but struck the car as it departed the area,” Gore said. “The suspect was shortly taken into custody.” The Border Patrol agent was working as a security officer at the synagogue, Gore said.
San Diego Police Chief Dave Nisleit said at a press conference, “As this incident was unfolding, a San Diego Police Department K-9 officer was en route to the scene, he was monitoring both the San Diego police department’s dispatch and the sheriff’s dispatch, heard the call and started making his way to this call. As he was en route, he also overheard on the CHP scanner a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location, which was Rancho Bernardo and the Interstate 15.”
Nisleit said as his officer exited the freeway he, “clearly saw the suspect and his vehicle. The suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody by the San Diego Police Department. As the officer was taking this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle sitting on the front passenger seat of the suspect’s vehicle.” He said the suspect was taken into custody without further incident.
Gore said the investigation is being led by his department with assistance from the San Diego Police and the FBI.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told reporters, “I want you to know, this is not Poway. The Poway I know comes together as he we did just a few weeks ago in an interfaith event. We always walk with our arms around each other. And we will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other. We have deep appreciation for those who showed courage at the Chabad. Deep appreciation for the law enforcement agencies which responded so quickly. We will get through this. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the families and those who are investigating. Poway will stay strong and we will always be a community that cares for one another.”
It is not clear how or where Earnest obtained the gun used in the shooting. Earnest wrote in his manifesto that he started planning the attack four weeks ago.
“Four weeks. Four weeks ago, I decided that I was doing this. Four weeks later I did it. I remember a specific moment in time after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice that something just clicked in my mind. ‘If I won’t defend my race, how can I expect others to do the same?’ I immediately got to planning, and I never looked back. I never had doubts. I never felt afraid. I never felt anxious—just the occasional nervous excitement,” Earnest wrote.
According to its website, “Chabad of Poway has become a popular center for Jews of all backgrounds who want to learn more about their Jewish roots. Chabad offers a wide variety of educational and spiritual opportunities, including Torah classes and lectures, Shabbaton dinners, and an array of family and social activities. Traditional Jewish values are brought to life in a joyous, non-judgmental atmosphere.”
The website added, “Chabad serves all segments of the Jewish community. Everyone is welcome regardless of their personal level of religious observance. The philosophy is in keeping with the Chabad-Lubavitch approach of joy, scholarship and unconditional acceptance and love for every Jew. The services are traditional, and are conducted in a joyous, casual atmosphere. Children are included and most welcome. Many of those who attend cannot read Hebrew, yet everyone feels at home. The prayer book is bi-lingual and various English readings are included in the service. Song and commentary add meaning and participation to the prayers.”
The Chabad is led by Rabbi Mendel and Shterna Goldstein, with the additional guidance of Rabbi & Rebbetzin Emeritus Rabbi Yisroel & Devorie Goldstein, who established the Chabad and community center in 1986. Mendel and Shterna Goldstein moved from Brooklyn to take over the Chabad in 2015.
2. Earnest Wrote in His Manifesto He, ‘Would Die a Thousand Times Over to Prevent the Doomed Fate that the Jews Have Planned for My Race’ & Says He Started a Fire at a Mosque
In his manifesto, John Earnest wrote, “I do not care about the debt-based currency that Jews like to pretend is money. I do not care for the bread and circus that Jewry has used to attempt to pacify my people. I willingly sacrifice my future—the future of having a fulfilling job, a loving wife, and amazing kids. I sacrifice this for the sake of my people. OUR people. I would die a thousand times over to prevent the doomed fate that the Jews have planned for my race.”
Earnest claims he set a fire at an Escondido mosque in the weeks after the Christchurch shooting. In his manifesto, Earnest wrote, “I scorched a mosque in Escondido with gasoline a week after Brenton Tarrant’s sacrifice and they never found shit on me (I didn’t realize sandn*ggers were sleeping inside though—they woke up and put out the fire pretty much immediately after I drove away which was unfortunate. Also they didn’t report the message I spray-painted on the parking lot. I wrote ‘For Brenton Tarrant -t. /pol/’).
The March mosque fire was reported on in the local media at the time. Sheriff Bill Gore said they are working with the Escondido Police and the FBI to determine whether Earnest was actually involved in the March fire there.
Earnest uses several anti-Semitic tropes and themes in his manifesto, including references to the supposed Jewish control of the media and financial institutions. He also references “cultural Marxism,” a favorite theme of the alt-right. Vice explains the conspiracy theory trope:
The trope of ‘cultural Marxism’ has been steadily gaining traction among the broad and diverse entity that is the radical right (although, hating diversity, would baulk at you saying so), where it serves as an umbrella term variously responsible for such un-American and anti-Western ills as atheism, secularism, political correctness, gay rights, sexual liberation, feminism, affirmative action, liberalism, socialism, anarchism, and, above all, multiculturalism. The ultimate goal of cultural Marxism, we’re led to believe, is to slowly and stealthily dilute and subvert white, Christian Western culture, thereby opening sovereign nations to rule by a one-world corporate government. Whether that’s by Jews, lizards, or communists isn’t always clear.
Earnest falsely claimed that European people are the victims of an ongoing genocide.
“I did not want to have to kill Jews. But they have given us no other option. I’m just a normal dude who wanted to have a family, help and heal people, and play piano. But the Jew—with his genocidal instincts—is insistent on poking the bear until it tears his head off. The Jew has forced our hand, and our response is completely justified<" he wrote. "My God does not take kindly to the destruction of His creation. Especially one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and innovative races that He has created. Least of all at the hands of one of the most ugly, sinful, deceitful, cursed, and corrupt. My God understands why I did what I did."
He said the Jews targeted at the synagogue are not innocent. He wrote, " Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race. They act as a unit, and every Jew plays his part to enslave the other races around him—whether consciously or subconsciously. Their crimes are endless. For lying and deceiving the public through their exorbitant role in news media; for using usury and banks to enslave nations in debt and control all finances for the purpose of funding evil; for their role in starting wars on a foundation of lies which have costed millions of lives throughout history."
Earnest wrote that he is a Christian and blames all Jews for the execution of Jesus Christ. "And finally, for their role in the murder of the Son of Man—that is the Christ. Every Jew young and old has contributed to these. For these crimes they deserve nothing but hell," Earnest wrote.
Earnest said in his manifesto that he believes a "revolution" will continue and if he survives, he would be freed from prison to "continue the fight."
Remember that fear is the only thing holding you back. Fear that you might lose everything in your life. I am a testament to the fact that literally anyone can do this, and this terrifies the Jew. I’m a 19 year old nursing student from the depths of Commiefornia for f*ck’s sake. I had my whole life ahead of me. If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised. Meme Robert Bowers back and keep up the memes of Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant was a catalyst for me personally. He showed me that it could be done. And that it needed to be done. ‘WHY WON’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY WON’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY DON’T I DO SOMETHING?’—the most powerful words in his entire manifesto. Any White man—rich or poor, young or old—who is brave enough can take any action he wants against the tyrannical and genocidal Jew. You should be more afraid of losing your entire race than this life you now live. The most dangerous kind of man is not one who has nothing to lose, but one who has everything to lose. Every single White man has everything to lose by doing nothing, and everything to gain by taking action.
He also included Bible quotes in his manifesto that he claims to justify his action.
3. His ‘Open Letter’ Is Filled With References to 4Chan & Other Dark Corners of the Internet
John Earnest posted a link his manifesto on 8chan, an imageboard-style forum, and his “open letter” is filled with references to the far right and other dark corners of the Internet. He also referenced 4Chan’s /pol/ message board.
He wrote that he had “only been lurking” on the message boards for a year and a half. After his post on 8chan, users there cheered him on, expressing hope he would get a “high score.”
“To the true anons out there (you know who you are). You are the product of /pol/—the product of unadulterated truth. You are my brothers and the best dudes out there. You are the most honorable men of this age. Despite all odds against you, you not only discovered the truth but also help to spread it. Some of you have been waiting for The Day of the Rope for years,” he wrote. “Well, The Day of the Rope is here right now—that is if you have the gnads to keep the ball rolling. Every anon reading this must attack a target while doing his best to avoid getting caught. Every anon must play his part in this revolution and no man can be pulling his punches. This momentum we currently have may very well be the last chance that the European man has to spark a revolution.”
The Day of the Rope is a meme that refers to the mass executions in the neo-Nazi novel “The Turner Diaries,” that occur as part of a race war.
Earnest talked in his manifesto about earning a “score” as if the shooting was a video game.
He wrote, “To my brothers in blood. Make sure that my sacrifice was not in vain. Spread this letter, make memes, shitpost, FIGHT BACK, REMEMBER ROBERT BOWERS, REMEMBER BRENTON TARRANT, filter the religious D&C, and filter the schizos who will inevitably call this a ‘false flag.’ Something to note, people grossly overestimate the police’s ability to solve ‘crimes’ such as ‘arson’ and ‘murder.’ Lots of threads about ‘Feds are talking to me guys because I post on 8chan, it’s so spooky’ are ‘organically’ popping up. What a load of shit meant to try to scare the goyim and prevent retaliation. ”
In the manifesto, Earnest references PewDiePie, a YouTube celebrity, but the reference appears to be an effort to troll the media and those reading the manifesto who are unaware of the internet culture that surrounds those in the circles Earnest appears to have been involved in. The New Zealand gunman also mentioned PewDiePie during a livestream and appears to also have been trolling.
“To the glow-n*ggers and Jewed-media reading this. I think it is important for you to know that I did not do this alone. I had the help of a man named Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg. He was kind enough to plan and fund this whole operation—the sly bastard. Apparently, Pewdiepie hates Jews as much as Pajeets. Who would’ve known? Make sure to call me a ‘white supremacist’ and ‘anti-semite’ or whatever bullshit you spew to spook the normalf*gs. It doesn’t even matter. You’ve been calling every White person alive those names for decades—they’ve lost all their meaning. You’ve socially ostracized every White person,” he wrote. “You’ve made it harder and harder for White people to live a normal life. To this I say well done. You are stupid enough to make a White person’s only viable option for survival to kill all of you. Keep doing what you’re doing Jew-media. You’re putting the noose around your own neck. The irony is glorious.”
Earnest added, “Despite this—I’m not worried. I have complete trust and certainty that all of you after reading this will begin planning your attack on the enemy—and you’ll attack again, and again, and again—until either we win, or we die. I know you will do this because you’re true anons. You’re White men. I’m not worried that the whole world is against you. I’m not worried because you are the greatest race that our God has created—it is our duty to keep this world from falling into darkness. White men will not let God’s creation be corrupted and destroyed by the Jew without a fight. Remember your honor White men.
Earnest called for others to follow in his footsteps. “More than anything I wish I could’ve seen your faces and fought alongside with you on the battlefield. Give them hell for me. Give. Them. Hell.”
He wrote, “That my act will inspire others to take a stand as well. And when this revolution starts gaining traction (if I am not killed) I expect to be freed from prison and continue the fight. I do not seek fame. I do not seek power. I only wish to inspire others and be a soldier that has the honor and privilege of defending his race in its greatest hour of need—and have a family if possible.”
4. Earnest, a Nursing Student at California State University-San Marcos, Is a Graduate of Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego, Where His Father Is a Science Teacher
John T. Earnest is a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego. Police were serving a search warrant at his parents’ house on Freeport Court in San Diego, where he lives. Earnest’s parents home is about seven miles away from the Chabad of Poway synagogue. He said in his manifesto that he is a nursing student at California State University-San Marcos.
Earnest’s father, also named John Earnest, is a science teacher at Mt. Carmel and is also a San Diego County lifeguard. Earnest has two sisters and a brother. The younger John Earnest addressed his parents, John Earnest and Lisa Earnest, and his family in his manifesto and says he was in nursing school:
To my family and friends. I can already hear your voices. ‘How could you throw your life away? You had everything! You had a loving family. You had great friends. You had a church. You were doing well in nursing school. You could have gone so far in your field of study. You could have made so much money and started a happy family of your own.’ I understand why you would ask this. But I pose a question to you now. What value does my life have compared to the entirety of the European race? Is it worth it for me to live a comfortable life at the cost of international Jewry sealing the doom of my race? No. I will not sell my soul by sitting idly by as evil grows. I’d rather die in glory or spend the rest of my life in prison than waste away knowing that I did nothing to stop this evil. It is not in my blood to be a coward.
Earnest claims in his manifesto that he is not mentally ill.
“I’ve seen plenty of mentally ill patients. It’s heartbreaking and I know what it looks like. No, I do not have mental illness. However, I know the Jew would love to claim that to discredit me. In his mind you must be insane to oppose him,” he wrote.
Earnest said his family did not cause him to think the way he does, writing, “Unfortunately, no. I had to learn what they should have taught me from the beginning.”
He said he has been playing the piano since he was a child, “Ever since I was 4. It was my favorite thing to do then. It is my favorite thing to do now. However, killing Jews might change that—I’ll get back to you on that one.”
Earnest also talks about his family background, writing, “My name is John Earnest and I am a man of European ancestry. The blood that runs in my veins is the same that ran through the English, Nordic, and Irish men of old. I am a descendant of one of the original colonists of Roanoke—John Earnest. What happened to him I do not know, and nor does anyone. But I do know that he left his wife and son, James Earnest, back in England. This son shortly after made the same daring journey across the Atlantic to the New World. From my mother’s side I inherited the blood of very wealthy Yankees—intelligent, resourceful, uncompromising. From my father’s side I inherited the blood of poor Southern farmers—intelligent, musically gifted, self-sufficient. A part of my ancestors lives within me in this very moment. They are the reason that I am who I am. Their acts of bravery, ingenuity, and righteousness live on through me. Truly, I am blessed by God for such a magnificent bloodline.”
CSU-San Marcos President Karen Haynes said in a statement, “I am deeply saddened and stunned by the senseless act of violence and hate that occurred this morning at Chabad of Poway, when a shooter opened fire on the congregation, resulting in the death of at least one individual and injuring others. We are heartbroken by this tragedy, which was motivated by hate and anti-Semitism.”
The Cal State San Marcos president continued:
We extend our deepest condolences to all of the victims, their families, friends and our entire community. We share your grief. This despicable act is entirely against our values as a University, particularly given that many in our community are preparing to observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on May 1. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and reject the rhetoric of divisiveness that feeds hatred. We are dismayed and disheartened that the alleged shooter – now in custody – is a CSUSM student. CSUSM is working collaboratively with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to assist and gain more information. Please remember that CSUSM offers a range of services to students who need support, including assistance from Student Health and Counseling Service. In addition, the Cougar Care Network and SOAR can provide information about on- and off-campus resources. For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program is available at 800-367-7474. The Office of University Ombuds offers confidential and neutral assistance. As a university community, we know that our diversity makes us stronger. Today’s reprehensible actions do not define us. They never will. We stand united against hatred as we work toward a better, more peaceful world.
On April 29, Earnest’s family issued a statement saying, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue. But our sadness pales in comparison to the grief and anguish our son has caused for so many innocent people. He has killed and injured the faithful who were gathered in a sacred place on a sacred day. To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries.”
His family added, “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know and ideas we do not hold. Like our other five children, he was raised in a family, a faith and a community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do. How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, though we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of the path that he took to this evil and despicable act. To that end, our family is cooperating with investigators. We ask only that the media and the public respect our privacy and allow the criminal justice system to work.”
Earnest’s family concluded, “Our heavy hearts will forever go out to the victims and survivors. Our thanks go to the first responders who prevented even greater loss of life and the well-wishers who have supported us. And we pray for peace.”
5. Like the Pittsburgh Synagogue Suspect, Earnest Says He Is Not a Trump Supporter, Because He Thinks Trump Is a ‘Zionist, Jew-Loving, Anti-White Traitorous C*cksucker’
In his manifesto, John Earnest wrote a “lightning round” with questions and answers. The first question he answered was whether he is a Trump supporter. He wrote, “You mean that Zionist, Jew-loving, anti-White, traitorous c*cksucker? Don’t make me laugh.”
The Pittsburgh shooting suspect had posted on Gab about why he didn’t support Trump, saying that he was not anti-Semitic enough for him.
About his political ideology, Earnest wrote, “It’s called not wanting to go extinct.” He said, about being a conservative, “I am not a useless, spineless coward so no—I am not a conservative. Conservative is a misnomer. They conserve nothing. They’ll complain all they want but they won’t take up arms and threaten their government with death (the only thing that works). Ever heard about the Battle of Athens (1946)? Find your balls again you insufferable f*ggots. If you do not defend your rights you deserve none.”
Earnest wrote that he does not feel any remorse and only feels hatred for Jews.
“The Jews have depleted our patience and our mercy. I feel no remorse. I only wish I killed more. I am honored to be the one to send these vile anti-humans into the pit of fire—where they shall remain for eternity,” Earnest wrote. “Disgust. Disgust that a race can become so unrecognizably corrupted that they would commit the most heinous acts that only the most twisted of individuals could put into reality. I hate anyone who seeks the destruction of my race. Every Jew currently alive plays a part in the destruction of my race. Does that answer your question?”
He added, “I hate anyone who seeks the destruction of my race. Spics and niggers are useful puppets for the Jew in terms of replacing Whites. Of course, they aren’t intelligent enough to realize that the Jew is using them and they will be enslaved if Europeans are eliminated. Do they actively hate my race? Yes, I hate them. Are they in my nation but do not hate my race? I do not hate them, but they aren’t staying. Are they out of my nation and do not hate my race? Fine by me.”
And wrote, “There is no love without hatred. You cannot love God if you do not hate Satan. You cannot love righteousness if you do not also hate sin. You cannot love your own race if you do not hate those who wish to destroy it. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. I may be filled with hatred, but I am also filled with love. Most people are empty inside—unspiritual and shameful dopamine fiends devoid of all love, honor, and purpose. I cannot imagine a more pathetic existence.”
He wrote that he would not die by suicide. “If I die—I die. I do not care if I die, but I will not sin against my God and murder myself. I plan on living (only you know the outcome),” he wrote.
Speaking outside of the White House on Saturday, President Donald Trump said, “”y deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected, the families, their loved ones, by the obviously looks right now based on my last conversations, looks like a hate crime, hard to believe. “We’re doing some very heavy research we’ll see what happens, what comes up, 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.”