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FBI got tips minutes before California synagogue attack

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    Ali De Leon pauses at a growing memorial with her son Leo and her dog Vinny across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Monday, April 29, 2019. A gunman opened fire on Saturday, April 27 at the synagogue as dozens of people were worshipping exactly six months after a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)

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    Noya Dahan, 8, rides on the shoulders of her father, Israel Dahan, at a candlelight vigil held for victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. Noya Dahan was injured in the attack. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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    A couple holds candles during a vigil held for victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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    A woman cries during a candlelight vigil held for victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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    Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, right, is hugged as he leaves a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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    People light each other’s candles during a vigil held for victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Published April 30. 2019 05:23AM

POWAY, Calif. (AP) — The FBI said it got tips about a social media post threatening violence against Jews just minutes before a gunman killed a worshipper and wounded three others at a Southern California synagogue — an attack that makes him “part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” the suspect’s family said Monday.

The tips to an FBI website and hotline included a link to the anonymous post but did not offer specific information about its author or the location of the threat. The bureau said employees immediately tried to determine who wrote it, but the shooting occurred before they could establish his identity.

John T. Earnest, 19, was charged with murder and attempted murder in Saturday’s attack as well as arson in connection with a nearby mosque fire last month. He was expected in court Tuesday.

His parents said their son and five siblings were raised in a family that “rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.” They said they were shocked and mystified.

“Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold,” the family said in its first public comments.

They said they were cooperating with investigators to help “uncover many details of the path that he took to this evil and despicable act.” They do not plan to provide their son with legal representation, according to their attorney, Earll Potts. A public defender will likely be appointed.

Earnest burst into the Chabad of Poway synagogue Saturday on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday that celebrates freedom, and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on the crowd of about 100.

Lori Kaye, a founding member of the congregation, was killed. Rabbi Yishoel Goldstein was shot in the hand, while Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz suffered shrapnel wounds.

Kaye, 60, was remembered for her kindness Monday at a memorial service at the packed synagogue in Poway, a well-to-do suburb north of San Diego.

Earnest fled when the gun jammed, calling 911 to report the shooting and surrendering a short time later, authorities said.

He was a star scholar, athlete and pianist whose embrace of white supremacy and anti-Semitism has dumbfounded the people closest to him.

Earnest made the dean’s list both semesters last year as a nursing student at California State University, San Marcos. In high school, he had stellar grades and swam on the varsity team.

His father, John A. Earnest, is a popular physics teacher at the public high school he attended in San Diego.

Owen Cruise, 20, saw the younger Earnest every day during senior year at Mt. Carmel High School, when they were in calculus and physics together. They were also members of the school’s amateur radio club.

Earnest was a nationally recognized pianist who brought audiences to their feet when he played at talent shows, Cruise said. He did a rendition of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and played Chopin and Beethoven.

“Crowds would be cheering his name,” Cruise said Monday. “Everybody loved him.”

Earnest showed no signs of harboring dark thoughts or racist views, Cruise said, adding that he had friends who were Jewish and black.

“He was very close to his dad,” Cruise said. “He always hung out in his classroom, came to see him at lunch. He always seemed like a nice guy. ... He didn’t seem like the type of person who would go off the deep end.”

His father worked at the school for 31 years and volunteered to help students with exams and homework, said Cruise, who praises his former teacher for having a big impact on his life. On the morning of the shooting, the elder Earnest was hosting a study hour for the Advanced Placement exam and brought cookies, Cruise said.

Cruise, now a sophomore at the University of California, San Diego, said Earnest lived at home and saw his parents every day.

“They only raised him to be the best man he could be,” Cruise said.

A tipster told The Associated Press that he called the FBI tip line at 11:15 a.m. Saturday because the post linked to a manifesto that said the author was responsible for the mosque arson in Escondido. He says he found online that had the mosque attack had happened and feared the new threat was real.

The online manifesto, written by a person identifying himself as John Earnest, was an anti-Jewish screed that praised the suspects accused of carrying out attacks on mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people last month and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 on Oct. 27.

The tipster, who refused to provide his name because of security concerns, said the call with the FBI lasted four or five minutes and the shooting happened soon afterward. He described the FBI as quick and professional and said he doesn’t know what the bureau could have done.

The shooting happened around 11:30 a.m. Earnest’s gun jammed and an off-duty Border Patrol agent fired at him as he fled, missing him but striking the getaway vehicle, authorities said.

Oscar Stewart, an Army combat veteran, rushed the suspect just before the agent opened fire, authorities said.

“This is an evil person whose religion is hate,” Stewart, 51, told KGTV in San Diego.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, R.J. Rico in Atlanta and Amy Taxin in Poway contributed to this report.

Comments
This fellow was an anti-Christ. Your conclusion is ignorant.
A true follower of the Way, walking in God's Holy Spirit, would not do this.
The gunman called Trump ‘jew-loving, anti-white, traitorous c*cksucker’ in his manifesto.
It appears he was under the influence of the main stream media. Get the whole story before you hit those keys Joe. Nothing to do with religion, mostly to do with rhetoric... Rhetoric of the left. He probably learned much of what he believed, in a university?
“Make sure to call me a ‘white supremacist’ and ‘anti-semite... " said the shooter.
Don't take my word for it, I didn't know him. Here is a quote from his classmate from last year:

"“He was very clear about his political ideologies in our AP government class. He's a staunch hard-right conservative who's driven by Christian values.”
Come on Joe. You have a hair-trigger for hatred for President Trump. You readily accept any negative information whether right or wrong. If it fits with your agenda of expectations, all the better. After all, you surmise, everyone hates Trump. If they don’t hate Trump, they should. So when something like this comes down the alley...all the better. Of course you overlook any positive about Trump. This time it backfired. The truth is this creep was anti-Christian.Also, he was a Trump hater. This information came from his manifesto. Why bother looking at facts, right? Facts only get in the way of the agenda of tribal Liberalism. You readily ignore sources laid out at your feet because you don’t want to hear them, as, you readily accept negative information that is damaging if it works. Half knowledge =no knowledge. Why do you think 30k+ people show up at a Trump Rally. Keep it up and 60k+ people will show up. Americans are sick and tired of people putting their finger on the scale.
You can dispute he acted in a Christian fashion, much in the same way Muslim terrorists fail to engender Islam, but this dude certainly saw himself as Christian and acted at least in part on the basis of faith. He targeted a religious group so it’s obvious his actions are religious.

In terms of the other distractions about trump in your post, let’s stay on topic.
Joe, you state, “this dude certainly saw himself as a Christian...” How did you come to that conclusion? I assert that anyone that deliberately shoots people in this manner is crazy. Crazy people grasp at peculiar affirmations for their justifications. Maybe he saw Martians, maybe he hated broccoli, ...Not to make light of this tragedy. It is too early to tell. Don’t jump to conclusions. As a Christian, I never desired to shoot people “on the basis of faith.” These shooters are always troubled individuals with an extensive background of mental illness that somehow, beyond comprehension, went undetected. Let’s see. Concerning Trump, I was preloading a defensive strategy. Even though this stuff has been going on for years, I expected to hear that this was Trump’s fault. That is always the liberal deflection.
C’monRambo, I came to that conclusion given that he self identified as Christian and listed Jesus, St. Paul and Martin Luther as his influences.

I’m a libertarian, genius. Meyers is a socialist. You seem like just a garden variety trumpist.
Come on Joe. Every “self-proclaimed genius” I ever met fell far short of expectations. I prefer to be “humble in greatness.” Meyers is a good Christian. Elsewhere, you stated that you taught Sunday School. You also stated that you hate Trump. Do you as a Christian Teacher believe in forgiveness? You lambast President Trump. If everyone in President Trump’s life like his wife Melania and his family are able to extend forgiveness for his mistakes, why can’t you? You never even personally met him, while his family are with him all of the time. Millions of voters as pious as you claim to be are willing to extend a Christian hand of forgiveness to Trump. Did you see the National Prayer Ceremony at the White House Rose Garden the other day? You probably refused to see it because you hate Trump. Is that a good Christian? You deny yourself any attempt at forgiveness. I watch everything I can to learn about actions of a person and their character. Actions mean more than words or hearsay. President Trumps personal history is his business. You readily dismiss Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, etc, etc,etc while you spear Trump. You have serious gaps of blindness in your disposition. Don’t walk around thinking you are a genius. I forgive Trump for his past transgressions because I appreciate the many great things he is doing for America. He is caring, kind, compassionate, and he is God faring. Watch his speeches & mannerisims. You look for anything to nock Trump down. You readily overlook the positive.
Come on Joe, Come on Joe, C’mon Joe....come up with something else in your Russian- English dictionary!

I never called myself a genius nor have said I hated trump. Trump has to show change and regret to be forgiven . I have no idea if any of those people forgave.
Come on Joe. “I’m a libertarian genius” you stated on your post above on Wed. 05/01/19 at 22:30. You have stated also that you have contempt for President Trump.On 04/19/19 at 07:00, under the Mueller Report thread you state that you “have distain” for Trump.Your actions indicate that you have an vehement dislike for Trump. You deny any positive news, you rebuke any good information and you dig up anything slandering Trump. Now, if that isn’t biased...you probably don’t even recognize it. If you would be impartial and watch Trump’s actions, maybe you would be the one changing. America is great!MAGA!
I was calling you a genius, sarcastically. More proof English is not your first language and you miss nuances that native speakers understand:
Come on Joe. You just added a comma now. Looks like another grammar error. More proof English is not your first language and you miss nuances that native speakers understand. You made numerous errors in grammar that I let go out of a spirit of forgiveness. A self proclaimed sarcastic genius should have a higher standard of intellect. Good luck in achieving it. I understand that you haven’t achieved your Doctorate yet. I will be easier on you. How soon until you get your Doctorate?

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