California Synagogue Attacked in Alleged Hate Crime

Today in Security: California Synagogue Attacked in Alleged Hate Crime

​A shooting at a California synagogue on Saturday, 27 April, left one dead and three injured. A 19-year-old man is in custody.

On Saturday morning, the shooter entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue and shot a 60-year-old woman, Lori Gilbert Kaye, who died of her injuries; 57-year-old Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein; and 34-year-old Almog Peretz, who was visiting from Israel. Goldstein and Peretz shepherded children attending an event at the synagogue that morning away from the shooter, but one of Peretz's nieces, Noya Dahan, 9, was injured by shrapnel, The Washington Post reported.

The shooting is currently considered a hate crime "because of statements that were made when the shooter entered," Steve Vaus, mayor of Poway, California, said.

The suspect fled the scene of the shooting after his gun jammed and called 911 to say he was involved and give his location; he surrendered without incident. Authorities believe the shooter acted alone, CNN reported​, and they are also investigating whether the suspect is connected to arson at a mosque in a nearby town from last month, according to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

​​"Today we witnessed another senseless attack in America. Attacks on soft targets, including faith-based houses of worship, have occurred with unfortunate frequency both in the U.S. and abroad over the past decade," said Brian Harrell, CPP, assistant director for infrastructure security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). "Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue, Pulse Night Club, and the Las Vegas concert massacres are still fresh in our minds. Among other incidents, the United States has experienced mass shootings in schools, at community centers, movie theaters, and restaurants. 

"The violent targeting of people who are expressing their freedom to worship must stop. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stands ready to assist our faith-based organizations, as requested," he continued.

DHS has recently updated their resource guide for securing soft targets and crowded places. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also has a collection of resources to protect houses of worship in particular.

In addition, ASIS International has white papers, podcasts, and articles that relate to house of worship protection: