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By Janelle Griffith
Lori Kaye, who was killed Saturday at Chabad of Poway when a man opened fire during a service on the last day of Passover, was many things to many people.
To her congregants, Kaye, 60, was a loyal friend and follower of the Jewish faith and a founding member of the Chabad of Poway, located north of San Diego.
“She is a steadfast member, supporter, philanthropist — just a kind soul,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured in the shooting, told host Willie Giest on “Sunday Today.”
Goldstein planned to deliver a sermon inside the synagogue Saturday to mark the final day of Passover, a week-long holiday marking the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt.
“Passover is about celebration, about unity and freedom and for this to occur on the last day of Passover was just so heart wrenching and heartbreaking,” he said.
The suspected gunman, John T. Earnest, 19, of San Diego, surrendered to police after opening fire on the 100 or so people inside the Chabad of Poway, according to authorities. He may be charged with a hate crime as well as homicide, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said. Earnest is also being investigated in connection with a March 24 arson attack on a mosque in Escondido, California, a city just north of Poway. A person identifying themselves as John Earnest posted an anti-Jewish open letter on a far-right message board hours before the attack.
Goldstein continued his sermon outside of the synagogue Saturday as the congregation sought shelter.
“I got out there and just spoke from my heart, just giving everyone the courage to know, it was just about 70 years ago during the Holocaust that we were gunned down like this,” he said. “And I just want to let our fellow Americans know we aren’t going to let this happen here. Not here in San Diego, not here in Poway, not in the United States of America.”
Goldstein said he started the congregation 35 years ago with Kaye’s help, when he was 22.
“Lori helped secure the construction loan,” he said.
Goldstein, Noya Dahan, 8, and Almog Peretz, 34, are among at least three people who were injured in the shooting, authorities said. Goldstein lost a finger on his right hand in the shooting.
President Donald Trump offered his sympathies Saturday, saying the shooting “looked like a hate crime.”
“My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected, their families, their loved ones,” Trump said Saturday.
Goldstein said that while he is heartbroken by the “senseless killing” of his dear friend of more than three decades, he hopes her death will inspire goodness.
“I pray for healing in this time of pain and grief and I ask that we all do something to add more light to combat this evil darkness that’s out there,” he said. “That can happen through acts of compassion and loving kindness.”