Local health, educational leaders express outrage, heartbreak over Chabad of Poway attack

Victim was wife of Scripps Coastal doctor; suspect was CSU San Marcos nursing student who trained at Scripps


The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department stands guard in front of Chabad of Poway on April 27 after a shooting at the house of worship. (Sheriff’s Department photo)

North Coast Current

Local medical and educational leaders are expressing solidarity with Chabad of Poway and the victims of Saturday’s shooting at the house of worship.

“It wasn’t long before I learned the shooting had involved two of our own — Dr. Howard Kaye of the Scripps Coastal Medical Group and his wife Lori — and that Lori had been killed,” Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said in a memo to staff and physicians on Monday, April 29. “At that minute, I admit that I felt rage — but my rage was against hatred.”

Scripps has medical facilities and offices in Encinitas, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Oceanside and Vista. The alleged shooter, a 19-year-old North County man, was a California State University San Marcos nursing student whose clinical training included experience in the Scripps system, Van Gorder noted in the statement.

“My rage only got worse once I learned the shooter was a nursing student who had performed some of his clinical training at a Scripps hospital,” Van Gorder told colleagues in the memo, which was provided to the North Coast Current by Scripps public relations. “How can anyone who is training or has been trained to save lives, take the life of another — because of hate?”

“My initial rage slowly turned to anger and then to a profound sadness; for the Kaye family and our broader Scripps family — and for our country, which is experiencing a rise in violence spawned by hatred,” Van Gorder continued. “As I write this memo, I’m filled with sadness but I also feel a sense of pride in our organization and our profession of healing and caring. Like many of you, I’m proud of the diversity we have at Scripps — religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and more. Diversity in all forms makes us stronger.”

Cal State San Marcos President Karen S. Haynes also expressed her and the university’s solidarity with the congregation and the Jewish community.

“We are heartbroken by this tragedy, which was motivated by hate and anti-Semitism. We extend our deepest condolences to all of the victims, their families, friends and our entire community. We share your grief,” Haynes said in the statement posted Saturday on the university’s website. “This despicable act is entirely against our values as a University, particularly given that many in our community are preparing to observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on May 1. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and reject the rhetoric of divisiveness that feeds hatred.”

Haynes confirmed that the alleged shooter was a student at the university.

“We are dismayed and disheartened that the alleged shooter — now in custody — is a CSUSM student,” she said in the statement. “CSUSM is working collaboratively with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to assist and gain more information.”

A funeral was held Monday for Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, a longtime member of Chabad of Poway. She was one of four victims in the shooting, which occurred just before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, as the congregation marked the close of Passover. The other three victims — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 8-year-old Noya Dahan and 34-year-old Almog Peretz — are being treated for their injuries.

A fundraiser is underway in support of the congregation and victims. Chabad of Poway, Chabad.org and Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters are coordinating the effort.

“We are heartbroken and pained by the attack that took place on the last day of Pesach, during services, at Chabad of Poway, CA,” Chabad of Poway stated on its website. “This is an attack on all of us, and we grieve for the family of Lori Gilbert-Kaye who lost her life & pray for the recovery of Noya Dahan (Age 8), Almog Peretz and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein who are injured.”

Local, state and federal agencies continue to investigate the attack, according to the most recent update from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities noted two people whose actions helped lead to the suspect’s arrest. Rancho Bernardo resident Oscar Stewart, 51, chased the suspect, catching up to the man as he prepared to flee in a vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department reported. At that point, an off-duty Border Patrol agent arrived at the scene and fired at the vehicle as the suspect drove away. San Diego Police Department officers arrested the suspect shortly after near Rancho Bernardo Road and Interstate 15.

“The suspect, 19-year-old John T. Earnest, was booked into custody on one count of murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted murder in the first degree,” according to the Sheriff’s Department update. “There is no indication at this point in the investigation that Earnest 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.”

Local news reports on Monday stated that the District Attorney’s Office had added a hate-crime special circumstance and gun allegations to the charges, in addition to arson of a house of worship related to an Escondido mosque fire on March 24.

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