Rabbi hurt in synagogue shooting: Evil will never prevail
Preacher describes valiant acts of worshippers in San Diego synagogue shooting
POWAY, SAN DIEGO Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, California, had been finalising his sermon for the last day of Passover when he heard a bang and stopped in his tracks.
He had just passed by his good friend Lori Kaye in the lobby. The pair exchanged smiles, and when he heard the bang, his first thought was that she "may have fell or a table tipped over".
Instead, Rabbi Goldstein found himself face to face with the teenage gunman responsible for killing Ms Kaye and wounding three others. He recapped the moment for reporters on Sunday as he hailed the heroic acts of the worshippers.
"I turn around and I see a sight that I - indescribable. Here is a young man standing with a rifle, pointing right at me," he said.
"He had sunglasses on. I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul. I froze."
Rabbi Goldstein's first concern was for Ms Kaye, a 60-year-old long-time congregation member, whom he described as a person of "unconditional love". But "more shots came" and he raised his hands - losing his right index finger to a bullet.
The wounded rabbi saw children were still playing in the banquet hall - including his own four-year-old granddaughter - and he rushed to get them out .
He was joined in this effort by Mr Almog Peretz, described as an Israeli "war veteran".
Mr Peretz "ran into the banquet hall, risking himself to save the children" and was hit by a bullet in his leg.
It was then that the assault weapon wielded by the shooter - named as 19-year-old John Earnest - jammed, and others jumped in.
Two people attempted to stop the gunman from fleeing, including Mr Oscar Stewart, a former US soldier who tried to tackle him and off-duty Border Patrol officer Jonathan Morales.
"I've been told that I may have saved some lives - I never thought about that I think... I just did what I did," Mr Stewart told reporters.
"I'm not a hero or anything, I just did it."
Mr Morales meanwhile "was able to discharge his weapon and (hit) the car a few times".
After the shooter left, Rabbi Goldstein returned to the lobby to find Ms Kaye unconscious.
"And her dear husband, a brother to me, is trying to resuscitate her. And he faints and he's lying there next to his wife. And then their daughter Hannah comes out screaming, 'daddy and mummy, what's going on?'
"It's the most heart-wrenching sight I could have seen."
The gunman also wounded eight-year-old Noya Dahan in the leg. She has been discharged from hospital, as has Mr Peretz.
The rabbi vowed his community would remain unbowed.
"No matter how dark the world is. We need to think of light, a little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness," he said.
"We need to show them that terrorism and evil will never prevail. Let's fill up the synagogues, let's stand tall, let's dance together." - AFP
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now