Woman came to California synagogue to mourn her mother. She saved rabbi from a gunman

Lori Kaye had gone to Chabad of Poway on Saturday to offer a prayer for her mother, who died in November, CNN reported.

But when a gunman burst into the synagogue near San Diego, California, witnesses say Kaye jumped between him and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who had been conducting the Passover service, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The shooter, later identified by San Diego police as John T. Earnest, 19, opened fire, killing Kaye and wounding three others including Goldstein, KGTV reported.

After Earnest fled when his gun apparently jammed, Kaye’s husband, a physician, rushed to help the gunshot victims, The San Diego Union Tribune said. He began CPR, then fainted on discovering the patient was his wife.

An off-duty Border Patrol officer working as a security guard at the synagogue chased Earnest outside, opening fire and striking his vehicle as he fled, the Los Angeles Times reported..

Earnest, a Rancho Penasquitos resident who had earlier penned an anti-Semitic screed on social media, surrendered to a San Diego police officer a short distance away, according to the publication.

Goldstein suffered gunshot injuries to the tips of both index fingers and may lose one finger, CNN reported. Witnesses say Goldstein called for unity and prayed for peace after being shot.

Also injured were Noya Dahan, 8, who had fled violence in Israel to come to California with her family, and Almong Peretz, 34, who was hit in the leg with bullet shrapnel while helping children in a nearby playroom to safety during the attack, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

In addition to her husband, Kaye’s survivors include a 22-year-old daughter, according to the publication. She worked at a sports memorabilia company.

“She didn’t die a senseless death,” friend Roneet Lev said, CNN reported. “She died advertising the problem we have with anti-Semitism and to bring good to this world ... If God put an angel on this planet, it would have been Lori.”

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, called Kay “a true woman of valor” and said she “lost her life solely for living as a Jew,” the Associated Press reported.

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.