The suspected gunman who allegedly opened fire with an assault rifle on members of a Southern California synagogue during a Passover service — killing one person and wounding three others, including the rabbi and a child — has been linked to a recent arson blaze at a nearby mosque, according to a law enforcement source.
John Earnest, 19, was taken into custody after being confronted during Saturday’s attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, who is a member of the temple, who shot at the suspect’s car as he drove off, officials said.
Earnest has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.
The synagogue’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, told ABC News that the suspects gun jammed during that attack, calling it the “one miracle” that prevented more bloodshed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Sunday that it was joining the probe, which is being led by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office.
A law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told ABC News that Earnest has been identified as the suspect in a March 24 arson fire that damaged the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, a San Diego County town about 15 miles north of the synagogue in Poway.
Earnest “is our guy,” the law enforcement source said of the arson at the mosque.
In the mosque fire, Earnest, of San Diego, allegedly left behind a note referencing the March 15 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. A 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, described by authorities as a white supremacist, allegedly killed 50 Muslim worshipers and broadcast part of the massacre on Facebook Live.