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Family of Poway synagogue shooting suspect John Earnest release statement

Posted: 10:42 AM, Apr 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-29 20:16:58-04
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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The family of Poway synagogue shooting suspect John T. Earnest released a statement Monday morning saying in part that their "son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold."

Earnest, 19, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of opening fire at the north San Diego County synagogue as worshippers gathered for the final day of Passover. One woman was killed and three others were injured in the attack, including a young girl.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue," the family said through an attorney.

Authorities say Earnest has no known connections to any white supremacist groups .

Earnest studied nursing at CSU San Marcos. On Monday, students expressed dismay that someone studying with them would be capable of such evil. Some professors canceled classes, and four candles were placed alongside a Holocaust memorial.

"Something must have flipped, or I don't know what," said Colton Van Buskark, a junior.

A person identifying themselves as John Earnest, posted an anti-Semitic open letter suggesting he had planned Saturday's shooting and referenced the deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month and at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue Oct. 27.

The author also claims to have "scorched a mosque in Escondido" a week after Brenton Tarrant's deadly rampage at Christchurch.

"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," the family said.

WATCH REPORT: Alleged synagogue shooter's family involved in community, knew he had a problem

"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," the statement read.

Read the statement below.

STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF JOHN T. EARNEST 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. 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. 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.