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Faith Leaders And Politicians Condemn Act Of ‘Hate’ In Poway Deadly Synagogue Shooting

Synagogue members hug as a man with a hand injury looks on outside of the Cha...

Photo by Denis Poroy / AP

Above: Synagogue members hug as a man with a hand injury looks on outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Poway, Calif. Several people were injured in a shooting at the synagogue.

Following the deadly shooting Saturday at a synagogue in Poway, faith leaders and politicians were quick to condemn the shooting as an act of hate.

The shooting happened around 11:30 a.m. when a 19-year-old man opened fire inside Chabad of Poway, killing one woman and wounding two men and a girl.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus quickly called the shooting a hate crime.

"I want you to know this is not Poway," Vaus said at the press conference near the shooting. "The Poway I know comes together as we did just a few weeks ago at an interfaith event. ... Poway will stay strong, and we will always be a community that cares for one another."

President Donald Trump also said it “looks like a hate crime” and said it was “hard to believe.”

"We're doing some very heavy research. We'll see what happens, what comes up.” Trump said from the White House’s South Lawn before flying to a rally in Wisconsin. “At this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all of those affected, and we'll get to the bottom of it."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent out a statement Saturday afternoon saying “no one should have to fear going to their place of worship and no one should be targeted for practicing the tenets of their faith.”

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at the news conference late Saturday afternoon additional law enforcement officers will be posted at houses of worship throughout the county. The sheriff said the suspect claimed to have set fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido on March 24.

In an email to board members, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center CEO Betzy W. Lynch said the center will have heightened security measures because of its Holocaust Remembrance program Sunday.

“Everyone will be subject to a full security search and are being asked to not bring weapons to the JCC,” she said.

San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert W. McElroy said in an email statement “houses of worship should be places of peace.”

“Know that the entire Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial counties is keeping you in our prayers,” he said.

Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights organization, was calling for the FBI to prioritize protecting houses of worship following the shooting.

“How much blood needs to be shed before we come together and stop violence like this at houses of worship nationwide?” Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera said.

Gore said the alleged gunman, John Earnest, 19, has no known connection to any white supremacist groups.

“Today also marks six months to the day of the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Enough. Enough hate,” Congressman Scott Peters said in a statement. “Enough gun violence. I stand with all Jewish Americans today, especially those in Poway and San Diego.”

Eleven people were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said Saturday that their thoughts were with those in the San Diego area and "we understand this heartache all too well."

Gore said there were no details on the motive for the shooting though an alleged manifesto by the suspected gunman blamed Jews for the fall of the European race.

“Coming just six months after the horrific mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we are confronted with what appears to be another anti-Semitic attack,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet. “We all stand with the Jewish community against this act of hate.”

City News Service and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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