POWAY, California—The parents of John Earnest, who allegedly opened fire on a synagogue Saturday, called their son "part of the history of evil" on Monday.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue,” the family said in a statement released through an attorney. “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.”
On Saturday morning, Earnest entered Chabad of Poway with an assault-style rifle and allegedly opened fire, killing one woman and wounding three others, including a rabbi.
Twenty minutes before the attack, Earnest published a virulently anti-Semitic manifesto repeating centuries’ old libels against Jews as justification for murdering them. The message said he idolized Brenton Tarrant, the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker, and Robert Bowers, who allegedly murdered 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Earnest also approvingly cited Adolf Hitler.
Twenty minutes after posting the message, he entered Chabad of Poway with an assault-style rifle and allegedly opened fire, killing one woman and wounding three others, including a rabbi. Earnest was chased out of the synagogue by an Army veteran and fled in a vehicle. Soon after, he called 911 and told authorities where to find him on a highway, according to authorities.
He will be arraigned Wednesday morning in San Diego County court, one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Earnest, 19, grew up in a middle-class neighborhood not far from Poway. He was an honors student and accomplished pianist at Mt. Carmel High School, where his father, also named John, works as a teacher. Earnest’s father also served as board president of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, where the family attended church weekly.
Gerrit Groenewold, a member of the church, told The Daily Beast on Sunday that Earnest was the quietest of his family, so quiet that Groenewold grew concerned. “I noticed that he was quiet and just wanted to have contact,” he said. “It’s not good if someone is that quiet. He needs to be part of the community, to let them know what is going on.”
Earnest was not known to law enforcement prior to the attack, authorities said, and has no known ties to white supremacist groups.