Synagogue shooting suspect was a churchgoer who thought killing Jews was God's will

John Earnest(Photo: Facebook)

The 19-year-old suspect in a fatal synagogue shooting in Poway, California, on Saturday has been revealed as a church member who thought he was doing God's will by attacking Jews.

One woman was killed and three injured, including the rabbi, in the attack on the Chabad synagogue on the last day of Passover. 

Teenager John Earnest has been charged with first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with the attack.

On Thursday, he was revealed to be a member of the Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in San Diego where his father is an elder. 

He is believed to be the author of a seven page manifesto written before the attack on April 27 which accuses Jewish people of controlling the media and states that they deserve to die because they killed Jesus. 

He faces an additional charge in connection with an arson attack on a mosque last month in nearby Escondido. 

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue," Earnest's parents said in a statement through a lawyer.

"To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries. Our son's actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.

"Like our other five children, he was raised in a family, a faith, and a community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.

"How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, though we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of the path that he took to this evil and despicable act." 

They continued: "Our heavy hearts will forever go out to the victims and survivors. Our thanks go to the first responders who prevented even greater loss of life and the well-wishers who have supported us. And we pray for peace." 

Following the shooting, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, issued a statement condemning terrorism, anti-Semitism and racism. 

"Anti-Semitism and racist hatred which apparently motivated the shooter . . . have no place within our system of doctrine," the church said.