At 11:23 AM this past Saturday, the last day of Passover—the week-long Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people—a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California, north of San Diego.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, age 57, was the first target on Saturday. However, Lori Kaye, age 60, got in the way of the killer and was fatally shot. Rabbi Goldstein was shot in the hand, losing one of his index fingers.
Two more members of the congregation were also injured by shrapnel: eight-year-old Noya Dahan, and 34-year-old Almog Peretz. Peretz was reportedly wounded while shielding his niece from the shooter.
The shooter fled the scene and called the police to surrender soon after.
The suspected shooter, a 19-year-old at California State University San Marcos, has been arrested. The investigation so far has revealed an online post from the shooter on 8chan—an online forum—where he referenced the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting from six months prior and the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings in March. He also planned out an attack of his own.
Poway’s Mayor Steve Vaus stated, “Just a few days after the Tree of Life Massacre in Pittsburgh we came together here with the Rabbi and his congregants … and not only memorialized the victims of Pittsburgh but we talked about how to minimize future tragedies, and I have no doubt that saved lives yesterday.” At the synagogue was an off-duty Border Patrol agent, who attended the service armed at the invitation of Rabbi Goldstein.
This shooting seems to be yet another event in a rising trend of religious extemism. On April 21, last weekend, a series of bombings targeted churches in Sri Lanka. The BBC reported that at least 250 were killed and hundreds more were injured. On March 15, 50 people were killed and 50 more were injured in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. On Oct. 27 of last year, 11 were killed and seven were injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In a time of religious extremism and tension, Rabbi Goldstein said that “my missing finger will forever scar me physically, but it’s going to remind me how vulnerable we are. But also [of] how heroic each one of us can be.”
*Note from the Editor: The name of the shooter has been omitted in an effort to reduce the glorification of hate crimes.
“…my missing finger will forever scar me physically, but it’s going to remind me how vulnerable we are. But also [of] how heroic each one of us can be.”