Another weekend, another religious worship shooting. Last week, it was suicide bombers killing 290 people celebrating Easter at church or eating breakfast at swank hotels in Sri Lanka; this weekend, it was one dead and three wounded at a San Diego-area synagogue that was observing the last day of Passover.
This latest attack in Poway, Calif., was obviously the major religion story this weekend. Houses of worship have become quite the fashion as killing fields these days and no group: Jews, Christians or Muslims, are immune.
The San Diego Union-Tribune had 13 stories about the shooting, including this haunting piece about the one fatality; a 60-year-old woman who stepped in front of the rabbi and literally took the bullet for him. What was she thinking when she did that? Unfortunately, a paywall would only let me read one piece.
The Los Angeles Times has covered mass shootings before and one of the reporters who covered the 2016 San Bernardino shootings covered this one, too. What both newspapers have in common is they lack a staff religion reporter, which would be of great help here, especially in noting important details like how this group of Jews does not believe in using electronics, such as smart phones, during the Sabbath.
That is why no one caught video of the shootings and why members of the synagogue would not have been spreading details by phone until Sabbath ended that evening.
But the Times made the wise decision to nab Jaweed Kaleem, formerly the senior religion reporter at the Huffington Post who now covers race issues for the Times, to lend his expertise. First, though, was the initial report out Saturday afternoon.
A gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle walked into a suburban San Diego County synagogue and opened fire on the congregation Saturday, killing one person and injuring three in an attack that authorities believe was motivated by hate.
The gunman entered Chabad of Poway in the 16000 block of Chabad Way about 11:20 a.m. and started firing, authorities said. The 19-year-old suspect, identified as John T. Earnest, of Rancho Penasquitos, was arrested a short time later.
Earnest appears to have written a letter posted on the internet filled with anti-Semitic vitriol. The letter talks about planning for the attack.
“Four weeks ago, I decided I was doing this. Four weeks later, I did it.”
A more complete version, with nine reporters contributing from both the Times and the Union-Tribune, ran Sunday.