Just four weeks after an arson attempt at the Dar-Ul-Arqam Mosque in Central Escondido, a 19-year-old man opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle at the Chabad of Poway, also in the north county region. One person was killed and three were injured. The perpetrator, who was taken into custody, has claimed responsibility for both of these terrorist attacks in the area. Social media accounts and a “manifesto” attributed to him express virulently anti-Semitic and anti-communist sentiments.
Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, said that Lori Kaye, 60, of Poway was killed and those injured were Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Noya Dahan, 8 and Almog Peretz, 34. 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.” (Associated Press)
Witnesses told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Kaye jumped in front of Rabbi Goldstein, a founder of the synagogue.
The shooter has been taken into custody, and the terrorist attack is being investigated as both a homicide and a hate crime. Liberation News spoke to Donny P. who lives near Chabad of Poway. Donny thought he was hearing an instance of domestic violence, and then the yelling was followed by gunshots. On hearing the shots, Donny took cover before heading to the scene.
Liberation News also interviewed Sara, a Jewish resident of northern San Diego County, who commented on this instance of violence:
Liberation News: You said you were listening to a police scanner when the attack took place. Based on what you heard over the scanner, what can you tell us about the shooter?
Sara: The shooter was a white male, reported to be carrying an AR-15 around the scene of the incident at least 20 minutes before the attack. He was openly armed, but somehow was not labeled armed and dangerous until after the attack.
Liberation News: What can you tell us about the knowledge the police had about the shooting that took place?
Sara: There were multiple shots fired. There were two immediate gunshot wound victims. He was armed and left the scene walking down the street.
Liberation News: Is there anything about Poway or San Diego that fosters to this type of violence?
Sara: San Diego has a “rich” history of anti-Semitism, violent military presence and hatefulness. Poway has always been seen as an overly-conservative, unsafe environment by my family. Poway may have a low crime rate overall, but it is not the least bit surprising to me that the biggest violent attack Poway has seen in a while was a hate crime, given its community’s deep rooted conservative values.
Liberation News: For those unfamiliar, the shooting took place on the last day of Passover,. It was also six weeks after the Christchurch shooting, what do you think this says about the shooter’s intentions?
Sara: The last day of Passover is a celebratory day, celebrating the end of slavery the Jewish people faced in Egypt. The closing of Passover is celebrated with a service, and is followed with a much awaited dinner. As Chabad is an Orthodox temple, they do not use electronics during the Sabbath, which the gunman, in my opinion, used strategically to target them on a day where they were unable to call for emergency services, as their phones were off and not with them on this holy day. Not only was this attack, in my opinion, a copycat attack and six weeks after the Christchurch massacre, but it was also six months to the day after the Tree Of Life synagogue massacre that killed 11 people. As a Jewish person, I feel the lack of action taken on previous attacks on the Jewish community has emboldened fascists by showing them that there is little resistance from the United States as a whole against white supremacy and fascism.
Liberation News: Do you agree with the mayor’s sentiments that this event isn’t representative of Poway as a community?
Sara: I am not a Poway resident, but as a Jewish San Diegan, I have always been under the belief that Poway is an anti-Semitic community, and word of mouth from other Jewish folks has always confirmed this suspicion. If the mayor made a point in being defensive of his community, by highlighting their recent interfaith event, it leads me to be even more suspicious that he knows his community is in fact a fascist-ridden one.
A pattern of hate crimes has been recently seen around San Diego: the Dar-Ul-Arqam Mosque arson, the Chabad of Poway shooting as well as and multiple verbal attacks and acts of vandalism on all of San Diego’s major college campuses. All progressive and revolutionary people must stand resolutely against all expressions of fascism and white supremacy as we extend our deepest condolences and solidarity to those tragically effected by this act of terrorism.