An off-duty Border Patrol agent who was in the synagogue, which is located about a half-hour outside of San Diego, fired at the suspect, 19-year-old John Earnest, hitting his car. The gunman fled the scene, but was soon apprehended without incident after he called 911 to admit to committing the crime, in addition to providing his location.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Earnest was armed with an “AR-type assault weapon,” and added that he was being interviewed by the FBI and detectives.
The attack occurred exactly six months after the deadliest shooting in American Jewish history, when a gunman killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Earnest pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to murder and hate-crime charges. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life without parole or the death penalty, despite California’s moratorium on capital punishment.