U.S. law enforcement said it received tips about a threatening social media post five minutes before Saturday’s synagogue attack in California, but said there was not enough time to identify the suspect.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it learned about the threatening anonymous post through its tip website and phone line just before the attack on Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego that left one woman dead and three other people wounded.
The FBI said its employees took immediate action to identify who wrote the social media post and to learn which location was threatened, but said the shooting took place before they could find answers.
San Diego County police say 19-year-old John Earnest allegedly entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue Saturday and opened fire with an AR-style assault weapon.
Investigators have said Earnest wrote an anti-Semitic manifesto on social media sometime before the shooting, in which he praised those accused of the deadly New Zealand mosque attacks and October’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
One of the tipsters told the Associated Press that he called the FBI after seeing the social media post and shortly before the attack took place. He described the FBI as quick and professional and said he doesn’t know what they could have done.
One of those injured in the attack was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein who lost his right index finger when he held up his hands as the suspect opened fire.
The rabbi said Sunday that most of his pain did not come from his own wounds, but from seeing a beloved charter member of his shul, 60-year-old Lori Kaye, lying dead on the floor as her husband, a doctor, frantically tried to resuscitate her.
Others wounded were an 8-year-old girl and her uncle — an Israeli war veteran who the rabbi said took a bullet trying to protect children. Both have been released from the hospital.
Goldstein said President Donald Trump telephoned him Sunday, speaking for about 15 minutes sharing his condolences.
“He was so comforting,” Goldstein said.
On Monday, Trump said on Twitter, “I spoke at length yesterday to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Chabad of Poway, where I extended my warmest condolences to him and all affected by the shooting in California. What a great guy. He had a least one finger blown off, and all he wanted to do is help others. Very special!”
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said there is "no doubt" Saturday's synagogue shooting in San Diego is a hate crime, but that the alleged gunman likely acted alone.
"It was an atrocious and utterly inexcusable action," Bolton told Fox News Sunday.
Hours after the shooting, Trump told a political rally in Wisconsin, "We forcefully condemn the evils of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated."
Rabbi Goldstein said the suspect's gun "miraculously" jammed and he was then confronted by off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales, who Goldstein said "recently discovered his Jewish roots."
Morales fired at the suspect as he fled, missing him but striking his car.
"Sincerest thank you to our great border patrol agent who stopped the shooter at the Synagogue in Poway, California. He may have been off duty but his talents for law enforcement weren't!" Trump tweeted.
Earnest called 911 emergency services himself to report the shooting and to tell police where he could be found. He surrendered peacefully with the apparent weapon sitting in the car.
Police say if the weapon had not misfired, the suspect might have killed many more. They also say he tried to livestream the shooting on social media, but that his equipment failed.[videobottom id="730"]