The parents of the man who allegedly opened fire on a California synagogue, killing one person and injuring three more, have broken their silence.
In a statement about the shooting, the Earnest family describes being shocked and saddened by the attack on Chabad of Poway synagogue in a San Diego suburb. The attack occurred Saturday morning, on the last day of the Passover celebration.
“Our sadness pales in comparison to the grief and anguish our son has caused for so many innocent people,” they wrote. “To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries.”
The Earnests said their 19-year-old son, John T. Earnest, was raised in a family that rejected hate and taught love. “How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us,” they added.
The statement was released Monday by the family’s attorney at the Klinedinst law firm. In it, Earnest’s relatives said they are cooperating with investigators. They also asked for privacy.
Earll Pott, an attorney for the family, tells NPR they will not pay for their son’s legal defense. “He will be represented by the public defender,” Pott said.
Their words came as mourners gathered Monday to honor Lori Kaye, 60, who was killed in the attack. Survivors, grieving relatives, lawmakers, a new anti-Semitism envoy from the State Department and an Israeli government representative attended the memorial service, The Associated Press reported.
Hannah Kaye shared memories of her mother and described how Lori would forgive the shooter. “I know my mother has already forgiven this man who shot her,” local media reported her saying.
Lori had gone to the synagogue on Saturday to pray for her own mother who had died, its founding rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, told reporters at a press conference. Witnesses to the attack said Lori protected the rabbi, jumping in front of him as the bullets came. The rabbi’s injuries include losing a finger.
U.S. State Department envoy Elan Carr told the congregation that the Trump administration will stand up to anti-Semitism. “I’m here to say we are at war with these people,” he said, adding that the fight is taking place in “every city in the United States.”
The shooting occurred six months after 11 people were fatally shot at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Police say Earnest used an AR-style assault weapon to attack the California synagogue and had no criminal record. He surrendered to police after the shooting and was charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned in San Diego on Tuesday.