POWAY–Detectives from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department along with members of several local, state and federal agencies have been working throughout the night, interviewing approximately 100 people who were victims and witnesses to the shooting that occurred at the Chabad of Poway.
Detectives also served several search warrants and processed the crime scene at the synagogue, as well as the suspect’s residence in San Diego and his vehicle. The investigation is continuing as detectives process evidence and interview additional witnesses.
The suspect, 19-year-old John T. Earnest, was booked into custody on one count of murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted murder in the first degree. There is no indication at this point in the investigation that Earnest was part of an organized group, according to investigators
“We believe he acted alone and without outside support in carrying out the attack. We are continuing to explore every investigative avenue to bring out all the facts in the case,” said Sheriff Bill Gore in a written release.
The Sheriff’s Department praised the heroic efforts of 51-year-old Oscar Stewart, of Rancho Bernardo, who rushed at the shooting suspect, chasing after the suspect as he fled the synagogue to a vehicle parked nearby. Stewart caught up to the vehicle as the suspect was about to drive away. While Stewart was near the vehicle, an off-duty Border Patrol agent caught up to the vehicle and yelled for Stewart to get out of the way. The Border Patrol agent then fired a weapon in the suspect’s direction striking the vehicle as it drove away. Stewart risked his life to stop the shooter and saved lives in the process.
The Sheriff’s Department’s hearts go out to those going through this difficult time.
Authorities encourage the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity. In case of emergencies, call 9-1-1. They can also call the Sheriff’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.