Doctor In California Synagogue During Shooting Performed CPR On Dying Woman, Not Realizing It Was His Own Wife

The exterior of a Poway synagogue after a shooting on Saturday.
David McNew / Getty Images

A doctor who was inside the Chabad of Poway Synagogue during Saturday’s deadly shooting sprang to work in the aftermath of the attack, tending to a mortally wounded woman and attempting to perform CPR on her.

The man did not realize that the woman was his wife.

The shooting on Saturday claimed the life of 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who witnesses said was shot as she protected Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein from being killed. As the New York Post reported, the woman was with her husband at the synagogue’s Passover celebration when the gunman burst inside and opened fire.

In the chaos, Lori’s husband raced over to help the victims and started to perform CPR on the woman, family friend Dr. Roneet Lev told The San Diego Union-Tribune. Lev told the newspaper that the man fainted when he realized that the mortally wounded woman was his wife.

Lev praised Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s self-sacrifice to save Goldstein’s life.

“God picked her to die to send a message because she’s such an incredible person,” Lev told the newspaper. “He took her for a higher purpose to send this message to fight anti-Semitism.”

The alleged shooter, 19-year-old John Earnest, had reportedly posted an open letter prior to the shooting in which he laid out plans to kill Jews and said he was acting in defense of his European heritage. The letter espoused anti-semitic and white supremacist views and was intended to be a call to action to others.

In the letter, the person identified as John Earnest wrote about killing as many people as he could before he went out in a blaze of glory. But instead, witnesses say he left after firing roughly 10 rounds, and ran away from an off duty Border Patrol agent who confronted the alleged shooter.

Earnest was found by police a short time later and surrendered without incident.

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In the wake of the deadly attack, many are choosing to focus on the acts of heroism that prevented the shooting from being much worse. Many have praised Lori Gilbert-Kaye for her self-sacrifice, as well as the quick thinking and brave actions of fellow congregant Almog Peretz, who reportedly grabbed children during the shooting and ran them to safety. Rabbi Goldstein was also praised for his calm demeanor during the attack. Though Goldstein was shot in the hand will likely lose his index finger, those inside said he spoke to congregants and organized a prayer in the immediate wake of the shooting.