A gunman opened fire in a San Diego-area synagogue on Saturday, killing at least one person and wounding several others in a crime carried out on the last day of Passover, authorities said.
The gun violence at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in the town of Poway, Calif. — about 37 kilometres north of downtown San Diego — unfolded six months to the day after 11 worshippers were killed and six others were wounded by a gunman who stormed a synagogue in Pittsburgh yelling, “All Jews must die.” The assailant in that incident was arrested.
Details of the shooting on Saturday near San Diego and the full extent of casualties were not immediately clear.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, speaking from a police command centre, told CNN that one person was confirmed dead in an attack that he described as a “hate crime,” saying his assessment was based on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.
A Palomar Medical Center spokesperson, Derryl Acosta, told Reuters: “We received four patients at about 12:30 p.m. They are in trauma.”
He declined to give any details about their conditions, age or gender. “That’s all I can tell you,” he said.
It was not immediately clear whether one of the hospital patients accounted for the fatality reported by the mayor.
“There are injuries. This is a developing situation,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a message posted on Twitter from its station in Poway, a city of about 50,000 residents, shortly after the shooting occurred.
Local channel KGTV 10News said at least four victims were transported to hospitals from the synagogue, which was hosting a holiday celebration beginning at 11 a.m. and due to culminate in a final Passover meal at 7 p.m., according to its website.
San Diego television station KGTV reported a woman whose husband was still inside the synagogue as saying the victims included the rabbi, another woman and the gunman himself.
Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee whose husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. “We are united. You can’t break us. We are in the U.S.,” Anvari told KUSI.
A man who lives nearby, Christopher Folts, said on CNN he heard six to seven gunshots, then a man yelling, followed by six to seven more shots.
Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the street from the shooting scene, said her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover services and that they were heading to Chabad of Poway to show support and help.
“We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,” Bromberg told The Los Angeles Times, adding that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway, because they would not normally use the phone during the Sabbath.
“They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,” Bromberg told the newspaper.
This story originally appeared on CBC