Escondido, CA

Man who wanted to massacre synagogue set mosque fire

Suspect appears in SD County Superior Court on Tuesday to plea not-guilty.

The man who wanted to massacre as many people as possible in a Poway Synagogue on Saturday, April 27 is reportedly the same person who tried to burn down a mosque in downtown Escondido several weeks ago.

This speculation is based on the fact that the suspect in the case published a “manifesto” that attacks both Jews and Muslims and praises the Christchurch Mosque massacre.

The deadly shooting happened just before 11:30 a.m. at Chabad of Poway in the 16000 block of Chabad Way. Deputies from the Poway Sheriff’s Station responded after receiving 9-1-1 calls about someone entering the synagogue and opening fire with an assault-type rifle. The lone shooter ran out and drove away from the scene. An off-duty Border Patrol Agent at the synagogue fired a weapon in the suspect’s direction. The suspect was not hit; however, a bullet hit the vehicle. Officers from the San Diego Police Department arrested the shooter near Rancho Bernardo Road and Interstate 15 in Rancho Bernardo. He was taken into custody without incident.

The woman slain was Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a Chabad of Poway synagogue congregator, who put herself between the shooter and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, saving his life, although he was injured.

Detectives from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department along with members of several local, state and federal agencies interviewed about 100 people who were victims and witnesses to the shooting that occurred at the Chabad of Poway.

Detectives also served several search warrants and processed the crime scene at the synagogue, as well as the suspect’s residence in San Diego and his vehicle. 

The suspect, a 19-year old (The TA declines to identify this person since such shooters thrive on notoriety) was booked into custody on one count of murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted murder in the first degree. There is no indication that the suspect was part of an organized group. 

“We believe he acted alone and without outside support in carrying out the attack. We are continuing to explore every investigative avenue to bring out all the facts in the case,” said Sheriff William Gore.

The Sheriff’s Department acknowledged another act of courage that occurred at the synagogue. Oscar Stewart, who is fifty-one-years-old and resides in Rancho Bernardo, rushed at the shooting suspect, chasing after the suspect as he fled the synagogue to a vehicle parked nearby. Mr. Stewart caught up to the vehicle as the suspect was about to drive away. 

While Mr. Stewart was near the vehicle, an off-duty Border Patrol Agent caught up to the vehicle and yelled for Mr. Stewart to get out of the way. The Border Patrol Agent then fired a weapon in the suspect’s direction striking the vehicle as it drove away. Mr. Stewart risked his life to stop the shooter and saved lives in the process.

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