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:
- White Paper: Recommended Best Practices for Securing Houses of Worship Around the World for People of All Faiths
ASIS Cultural Properties Council Houses of Worship Committee: Jim McGuffey, MA, CPP, PSP, PCI; Paula L. Ratliff, BSC, MS; Doug Meacham, CRM; Phil Purpura, CPP Dick Raisler; Carl Chinn; Alistair Calton
- Security Management Highlights podcast – SECURITY TRENDS: Protecting Houses of Worship
Houses of worship are more vulnerable to attack than ever, but these properties must maintain the balance of being an open environment, as well as hardened against threats. ASIS Cultural Properties Council member Jim McGuffey, CPP, PSP, PCI joins us to talk about the latest trends in protecting these facilities.
- Securing Sacred Spaces SM Article by Paula Ratliff
Recent attacks at houses of worship around the globe challenge security professionals with protecting open facilities on a limited budget.
- How to Protect Your House of Worship SM Article by Megan Gates
- Additional ASIS Soft Target/Active Shooter Resources