60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed and three others were wounded by a 19-year-old shooter who opened fire in the Chabad Poway Synagogue in San Diego at 11:23 am on the Holy Sabbath. One of the wounded was reported to be a eight-year-old girl wounded in the leg and face, and another was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the 57-year-old rabbi of the synagogue. The rabbi may lose several fingers in what were described as “defensive injuries.”
The synagogue was full with approximately 100 worshipers at the time of the shooting due to a Passover celebration that was being held. An announcement on the synagogue’s Facebook page invited the community to a special Passover service that included the Yizkor (a service commemorating those who have passed away) and a special feast held at the end of Passover called Seudat Moshiach (Messiah’s feast). Also listed is the priestly blessing in which the descendants of Aaron bless Israel with peace.
“What’s terribly ironic is that while the gunman entered the Synagogue, the worshipers were praying for their deceased loved ones and listening to the local Kohanim (priests) chant the Aharonic Benediction which culminates in a prayer for peace,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Israel365.
The shooter fired at least ten rounds from an AR-15 style rifle but a greater tragedy was averted by an off-duty border patrol agent
who was in the synagogue at the time. He chased the shooter outside as he attempted to flee and fired at the gunman, striking his vehicle. The perpetrator was spotted by a K-9 officer while driving on the highway about two miles away. The suspect was pulled over and exited the car with his hands up. The rifle used in the shooting was in the front seat of his car.
According to some reports, Kaye placed herself between the rabbi and the shooter, thereby saving that rabbis life. It has also been reported that 34-year-old Almog Peretz was visiting from Israel. A man who went to visit Peretz in the hospital says he was injured by shrapnel from the shooting when scooped up many of the children in his arms and ran away from the shooter.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said that local officials had visited the synagogue one month ago in order to help educate the members on how to react to such a situation.
“I think this could’ve been far, far worse but they were being proactive, they were ready,” Vaus said. “I think that saved a lot more bloodshed and loss of life.”
The mayor defined the shooting as a hate-crime “because of statements that were made when the shooter entered.”
Update #6 @SDSheriff will be providing extra patrols at places of worship this weekend. We encourage congregations to call us with any security concerns. If you see something suspicious, say something. Call the @sdcrimestoppers anonymous line(888) 580-8477.
9-1-1 for emergencies.
— San Diego Sheriff (@SDSheriff) April 27, 2019
This comes six months after eleven Jews were killed in a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
It was reported that the suspected shooter posted an online manifesto in which he claimed credit for arson at an Escondido mosque one month ago.