Lori Gilbert-Kaye identified as victim in deadly California synagogue attack

A Jewish leader in San Diego named the victims of a shooting at a synagogue in the Poway suburb, including a 60-year-old congregant who lost her life in the attack.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, announced in a statement that Lori Kaye, 60, of Poway was killed in a deadly attack on a Chabad synagogue on Saturday.

According to media reports following the shooting, the victim’s friend, Audrey Jacobs, explained that Kaye had jumped in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein “to take the bullet and save his life.”

“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor,” wrote Jacobs on Facebook. “You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life.”

Jacobs added, “Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter.”

In addition to Kaye, those injured in the shooting were identified by Fradkin as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, eight-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, Almog Peretz, 34.

Dahan is originally from Sderot, Israel, and was reportedly struck by shrapnel in the face and leg. Peretz rushed children at the site to safety and was shot in the leg.

“In the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country,” Fradkin said. “We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew.”

Minoo Anvari, a member of the synagogue, told media outlets that her husband was inside during the shooting. She said he called to tell her the shooter was shouting and cursing.

She called the shooting “unbelievable” in a peaceful and tight-knit community.

“We are strong; you can’t break us,” Anvari said.

Donny Phonea, who lives across the street from the synagogue, turned off his power drill and heard someone shout, “Police!” Then he heard three or four shots.

The 38-year-old bank auditor looked over his backyard fence facing the synagogue and saw people hiding behind an electrical box in the parking lot of a neighboring church. At that point, he knew something was “very, very wrong,” went inside and closed his doors and garage.

“I’m a little taken aback,” said Phonea, who moved to Poway two weeks ago. “I moved here because safety was a factor. Poway is very safe.”

President Donald Trump offered his sympathies Saturday, saying the shooting “looked like a hate crime.”

“Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidary with the Jewish community,” Trump said later at a rally in Wisconsin. “We forcefully condemn the evils of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.”

He praised law enforcement’s “incredible response” and singled out the off-duty Border Patrol agent who “bravely returned fire and helped disrupt the attack and saved so many lives.”

The mayor of Poway, who tweeted that he got a call from the president offering help, also denounced what he called a hate crime.

“I want you know this is not Poway,” Mayor Steve Vaus said. “We always walk with our arms around each other and we will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other.”

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he joins the community in grief.

“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship, and no one should be targeted for practicing the tenets of their faith,” he said.