Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told CNN the synagogue was a target for "someone with hate in their heart...towards our Jewish community and that just will not stand."
Friends have reportedly identified the woman killed as Lori Kaye, 60, of Poway. People on the scene say she jumped in front of the synagogue’s founding rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein.
According to witnesses, the rabbi continued with his sermon after being shot in the hand — he lost his right index finger — telling people to stay strong.
Goldstein described Kaye as a “supporter, philanthropist, just a kind soul” in an interview with the Today show.
Kaye’s husband, a physician, reportedly accompanied his wife to the synagogue to say Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, for her mother, who had recently passed away. Fellow worshippers called him to help victims, and he began to do CPR on one until realizing it was his own wife. He then fainted.
The San Diego native is also survived by her 22-year-old daughter.
Also injured was Noya Dahan, eight, who was hit with shrapnel in the face and leg. The elementary school student and her family moved to the area from Mira Mesa, another San Diego suburb, a few years ago after swastikas were painted on their home, according to friends.
Almog Peretz, 34, the uncle of Noya, was shot in the leg as he ushered children to safety.
A witness, Danny Almog, 40, had just arrived at the synagogue when he heard six shots. He then heard the screams, “Hide yourself. Shooting! Shooting! Shooting!” Almog told the Los Angeles Times he dropped to the floor and started to crawl towards his children. His father-in-law had thrown his body over the Almog’s two-and-a-half-year-old son to protect him, but he could not find his daughter. Peretz, a friend, had saved the four-year-old girl.
The instincts Peretz honed over the years rushing to shelters to hide from rockets fired in the Gaza Strip made protecting the children second nature.
“This is sad, but I am originally from Sderot, so we know a bit about running from the Kassam rockets,” he told Israel’s Channel 12 from his hospital bed, the Times of Israel reports.
You can help the victims and survivors of this shooting by donating to their official GoFundMe, along with other resources, including supporting organizations fighting anti-Semitism and supporting gun control.