One dead, three injured in shooting at US synagogue

A shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California has left one woman dead and three others injured. A 19-year-old man has been detained and police are determining the legitimacy of an anti-Semitic letter he allegedly wrote.

A shooting on Saturday at a synagogue outside San Diego where worshippers were celebrating the last day of Passover has left one woman dead, authorities said. A girl and two men, including the rabbi of the synagogue, were injured.

Authorities in Poway, California, said the extent of the injuries was unclear.

San Diego County deputies were called to the scene at the Chabad of Poway just before 11:30 a.m. and the four injured were admitted to Palomar Health Medical Center Hospital about 12:30 p.m., hospital spokesman Derryl Acosta said.

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at a news conference that a white man entered Chabad of Poway on Saturday and opened fire on worshippers with an AR-type assault weapon.

Gore said an off-duty Border Patrol agent believed to be inside the synagogue shot at the suspect as he fled. The agent did not hit him but struck his car.

Read more: 8 facts about gun control in the US

Police approach a house thought to belong to the 19-year-old suspect

Suspect in custody

Authorities said they had detained one man and that there was no known further threat. They said the attack was being investigated as a hate crime.

Gore did not provide a motive for the suspect — a 19-year-old San Diego resident — saying only that authorities were examining his social media activity and establishing the legitimacy of an anti-Semitic open letter published online hours before the attack. The text's author celebrates the recent deadly shootings at mosques in New Zealand and at Pittburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, and claims to have lit a fire at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month. The blaze caused damage but no injuries. 

"We have copies of his social media posts and his open letter and we'll be reviewing those to determine the legitimacy of it and how it plays in to the investigation," he said.

Read more: Columbine marks 20 years since school shooting

Related Subjects

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said the suspect called police to report the shooting and a California Highway Patrol officer heard it on a police scanner, saw the suspect and pulled him over.

Nisleit said the suspect got out of his car with his hands up and he was taken into custody.

Now live
03:23 mins.
DW News | 17.03.2019

Concerns over rising anti-Semitism in France

'Evil of anti-Semitism and hate must be defeated'

US President Donald Trump offered his "deepest sympathies to the families of those affected" by the shooting.

At the White House, Trump said that the shooting "looked like a hate crime" and called it "hard to believe," before flying to a rally in Wisconsin. 

"Tonight, America's heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in California, just happened," he later told supporters at the rally.

"Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate which must be defeated."

Read more: When social media inspires real life violence

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter: "We are once again faced with appalling reports of an anti-Semitic hate crime. The attack on the Chabad of Polway synagogue is an attack on all of us. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the deceased and with the wounded."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the shooting was "yet another painful reminder that anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews is still with us, everywhere."

"No country and no society are immune. Only through education for Holocaust remembrance and tolerance can we deal with this  plague," he said in a statement.

'Enough is enough'

Saturday's shooting came exactly six months after a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed.

"It was only six months ago to the day that we became members of that tragic club of community-based shootings to which no one wants to belong," Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue said in a statement.

"We know first-hand the fear, anguish and healing process such an atrocity causes, and our hearts are with the afflicted San Diego families and their congregation," the statement read. "These senseless acts of violence and prejudice must end. Enough is enough!"

Synagogues in Germany

Rykestrasse Synagogue in Berlin

The Jewish community in Berlin with more than 11,000 members is once again the biggest in Germany. Its main synagogue is on the Rykestrasse, a red-brick building in a Neo-Romanesque style dating from 1903/04. With seating for over 2,000 it is the second largest synagogue in Europe after the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest.

Synagogues in Germany

Erfurt Synagogue

It's thought to be one of the oldest synagogues still standing in Europe. It was by chance in the year 1100 that the Erfurt Synagogue survived a medieval pogrom as well as repeated phases of persecution. It was converted into a storage hall and later even used as a ballroom, so its true purpose remained hidden until the 1990s. It was eventually restored and re-opened in 2009 as a museum.

Synagogues in Germany

Jewish Cemetery 'Heiliger Sand' in Worms

The first settled Jewish communities were established along a north-south passage following the Rhine river between Speyer, Mainz and Worms. The oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe can be found in the synagogue compound in Worms. The tombstones with over 2,000 still legible inscriptions, some dating back to the 11th century, are well worth seeing.

Synagogues in Germany

Cologne Synagogue

Cologne was one of the largest Jewish communities in Germany during the Weimar Republic. In 1933 there were seven synagogues. On November 9, 1938, during the "Reichspogromnacht", all houses of prayer were destroyed. After the war, the synagogue in Roonstraße was the only one to be rebuilt. Today it is once again a lively centre of Jewish culture in Germany.

Synagogues in Germany

The "document" at the Neupfarrplatz in Regensburg

The first Jewish community in Bavaria was based in Regensburg. In the Middle Ages it was one of the most important in Europe. The first synagogue, which was destroyed in 1519, is today commemorated by a work of art in white stone marking the outline of the synagogue. In 1995, during excavation work, the old remnants were found, leading to the creation of an underground information center.

Synagogues in Germany

The Baroque synagogue in Bayreuth

The synagogue in Bayreuth has a very different history. The building, from 1715, served as an opera house and was only later converted by the Jewish community into a synagogue. Today it is the only surviving Baroque style synagogue in Germany, which is still used today as a place of worship.

Synagogues in Germany

Ulm Synagogue

The Jewish community in Ulm has had a synagogue again since 2012. The former Federal President Gauck also attended the inauguration. He spoke of "a day of joy for all people of good will". The church, which is oriented towards Jerusalem, is to be the central contact point for Jews in the east of Württemberg and in the Bavarian part of Swabia.

Synagogues in Germany

The Great Synagogue of Augsburg

It is the only synagogue in Bavaria to have survived National Socialism almost unscathed. Opened in 1917, the Art Nouveau building is considered one of the most beautiful prayer houses in Europe. The eye-catcher is the 29 meter high dome, which is decorated with oriental elements. The synagogue also houses the Jewish Cultural Museum, which documents the history of the Jews in Augsburg.

Synagogues in Germany

The timber-framed synagogue in Celle

In this region of Germany Jews were only granted permission to build synagogues in 1737. This simple exterior timber-framed building dates from this period. The opulent Baroque style interior, like so many synagogues in Germany, fell victim to the Nazi "Kristallnacht" pogrom in November 1938. Since 1974, the building has been used once again as a synagogue.

Synagogues in Germany

The Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt am Main

The 20th century rang in an economic boom for Jews in Germany, which, in turn, inspired a more liberal movement within the Jewish community. This synagogue dates from this era and resembles Assyrian–Egyptian architecture. Neither Nazi pogroms, nor the Second World War could fully destroy it. So, to this day, it stands as a testament to the glory days of German-Jewish life.

Synagogues in Germany

The Old Synagogue in Essen

The Old Synagogue in Essen was built between 1911 and 1913. It was one of the largest and most important Jewish centers in pre-war Germany, but was severely damaged by the Nazis in 1938. After the war it served first as a museum for industrial design and later as a place of commemoration and documentation. After elaborate reconstruction work it is now home to the "House of Jewish Culture" museum.

Synagogues in Germany

The New Synagogue in Dresden

The Old Synagogue in Dresden, designed by Gottfried Semper and part of the city's famous skyline, was destroyed in 1938. More than half a century later, at the same location, this award-winning new building was opened in 2001. Inside the sanctuary, is a cube containing a square worship space, curtained off on all sides, intended to evoke an echo on the scale of the Temple at Jerusalem.

Synagogues in Germany

Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Munich

Munich also set out to mark architecturally a new chapter in German-Jewish history. The Ohel Jakob, or Jacob's Tent, synagogue was inaugurated in 2006. The building is part of the new Jewish Center consisting of the synagogue, the Jewish Museum of Munich and a community center funded by the city. With its 9,500 members the Jewish community in Munich is one of the biggest in Germany.

law/se (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Every day, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. Sign up for the newsletter here.