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27 Apr, 2019 21:29

1 killed, 3 injured as gunman opens fire at California synagogue

1 killed, 3 injured as gunman opens fire at California synagogue

One person has died and three have been injured in a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, near San Diego, California. A suspect has been detained. The local mayor said the crime was hate-motivated.

Police responded to calls about a man with a gun at the Chabad of Poway synagogue at about 11:30am local time on Saturday. Four victims were taken to hospital, and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told NBC that there was one fatality.

Police spokesman Sgt. Erin Meleen told media that the suspected gunman was apprehended down the road, “a short distance from the scene.”

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In the panic caused by the shooting, several children went missing but were later located and reunited with their parents, Meleen said. It is unclear how many people were in the temple when the shooter opened fire.

The suspect was identified as a 19-year-old white male wielding an “AR-type assault weapon,” San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore told media. Gore said that the suspect attempted to flee the scene. An off-duty border patrol agent tried to stop him and fired several shots at his vehicle but he managed to escape. He was eventually captured after calling in a tip-off on himself.

The suspect called the police, reported the shooting and gave his location, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said. The tip-off was overheard by a patrol officer on a police scanner who was on his way to the scene. The officer spotted the car with the suspect and a rifle on the front seat and pulled it over. The man did not resist arrest.

A young girl, two men and an older woman were taken to hospital immediately in the wake of the rampage. The woman later succumbed to her injuries.

Saturday marked the last day of Passover, an eight-day holiday that marks the exodus of Jews from Egypt. It’s a major holiday in Judaism and typically sees many people attending church services.

US President Donald Trump has expressed condolences to those affected by the shooting, while commending the police for swiftly taking the suspect into custody.

Speaking at the White House South Lawn, Trump said the shooting "looked like a hate crime."

The attacker reportedly shouted an anti-Semitic slur as he went on the rampage inside the synagogue.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said that he believes the attack to be a “hate crime” due to the “statements the shooter made when he entered.”

There have been unconfirmed reports that the attacker had penned a manifesto in which he laid out his anti-Semitic views and allegedly claimed responsibility for an arson attack on a mosque. The writings have been circulated online. The authorities said that they were aware of the “manifesto” but couldn’t confirm its authenticity.

Some of the Democratic presidential candidates have expressed sympathies for the victims of the attack.

Bernie Sanders linked the shooting to the issue of gun violence.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the attack as “an act of hate” that appears to have been driven by anti-Semitism.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned the attack, raising the alarm over a spike in anti-Semitic violence in the country. The attack on Saturday comes several months after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 people were killed.

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