Rabbi recalls coming face-to-face with gunman: ‘I couldn’t see his soul’


(CNN) – It was the last day of Passover, one of the holiest days of the year, and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was preparing to lead a memorial service at Congregation Chabad in Poway, California, about 22 miles north of San Diego.

He had just spoken to Lori Kaye, a close family friend. She had come to the synagogue on Saturday to honor her mother, who had recently passed away, Goldstein said standing before a group of reporters, both of his hands bandaged.

Then he saw an unthinkable sight.

“Here is a young man, standing with a rifle pointing right at me,” Goldstein recalled in a Sunday news conference. “And I look at him. He had sunglasses on. I couldn’t see his eyes. I couldn’t see his soul.”

The 19-year-old gunman killed Kaye and wounded three others — including an 8-year-old girl and her uncle, who was visiting from Israel.

The suspect in police custody has been identified as John Earnest, a student at California State University San Marcos. He was booked into San Diego Central Jail early Sunday on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Inmate Website.

Authorities are investigating a possible link between the suspected gunman and a case of arson at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month, according to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

Investigators have determined that the suspect acted alone, Gore said Sunday.

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