My heart and prayer goes to the members of Chabad of Poway in the wake of this horrific Passover news story. Sh'fokh Chamat'kha al ha-goyim asher lo yad'ukha... As the passover Haggadah at Elijah's cup cries, "Pour out Your wrath" on those who hate and kill and have destroyed and devoured God's peoples in all places. We pray that God help us to remove hatred from the world we create with Him every day.
On Saturday, April 27, 2019 a little after 11:30 in the morning, a 19 year old white supremicist walked into Chabad of Poway, CA and opened fire. He killed one, wounded 4 (including the rabbi and a young girl) and fled the scene when his AR-15 failed and congregants tried to oppose him. He was captured on the highway shortly thereafter.
Like the murder in the mosques in Chirstchurch New Zealand, he posted his rambling hatred on the internet shortly before the killing began. To read this example of white supremicist hatred, click here. He was clearly aware that he was attacking on the 6 month anniversary of the slaughter at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh PA by another white supremicist. He reportedly referenced both, while saying that Trump is wrong to support Israel. An initial report can be seen here.
Unfortunately, we are starting to have a large enough sample size of these killings to establish patterns and outliers. Up to this point "lone wolf" attacks by radicalized individuals were isolated incidents. The only indicators would be participation in hate sites on the web where free speech limitations prevent close individual monitoring and surveillance. This time, however, the shooter claims to have fire bombed a mosque in the area, a crime previously unsolved.
This hate is not new, but the internet's ability to help an individual to feel a part of a larger world without actually meeting anyone in that world in person is the new wave. Now Dillon Russ, Robert Bowers, and Brenton Tarrant can all reach beyond their individual hatred of Jews, Muslims, African Americans and immigrants and be part of inspiring future violent hatred around the globe.
Friday and Saturday as we ended Pesach we had a Sheriff's car in the parking lot and armed manpower in the building. We have received DHS grants for locks, doors, glass, cameras and more. We have taken the necessary precautions. But we are not at ease, because we know that a shooter like John Earnest would have seen the car and simply moved on to a softer target to kill.
The answer is not just in pylons, cameras, and door locks. The only answer is armed, trained, opposing force in every synagogue. And it is an imperfect answer, to be sure. But the time of debating this has long gone. Synagogues need trained guns.