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"Sick to my stomach": Mayor calls California synagogue shooting "an affront to humanity"

Mayor: Synagogue shooting "an affront to humanity"

The mayor of the California city where a gunman opened fire at a synagogue Saturday called the shooting "an affront to humanity" that made him "sick to my stomach." Police say the suspect, 19-year-old John Earnest, opened fire on worshippers celebrating the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway, leaving one woman dead and three others injured.

"This is an affront to our community and an affront to humanity for this to happen," Steve Vaus, the mayor of Poway, California, said in an interview Sunday on CBSN. "Hate has no place in any community, least of all a community like Poway."

The woman who was killed has been identified as 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who friends said was shot while trying to protect the rabbi. She was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.

Vaus said he "was sick to my stomach" once the sheriff's department informed him of the shooting on Saturday. The mayor praised the response from local, state and federal law enforcement, saying they "all worked brilliantly together to bring this to a quick resolution."   

Synagogue Shooting-California
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, left, walks away after talking to San Diego county sheriff's deputies outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. AP

The shooting occurred shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, when Earnest allegedly entered Chabad of Poway and opened fire on worshippers with what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said Saturday. After engaging in a firefight with an off-duty Border Patrol agent, Earnest fled the scene and later called police to turn himself in, Gore said. 

Earnest has been booked on one count murder and three counts attempted murder and may be charged with a hate crime. The shooting happened six months to the day of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead. 

"This hate crime is not who Poway is," Vaus said Sunday. "Poway will wrap its arms around all of its community, including our Jewish brothers and sisters here at the Chabad, and we will walk with them step by step through this, and we will all be better. Our hearts are broken, and there will be a hole in our heart for the life lost, and for those that were injured and scarred, but we will get through this together."

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