Poway mayor says post-Pittsburgh precautions saved lives
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Poway mayor says post-Pittsburgh precautions saved lives

Two days after deadly October attack, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department met with Jewish leaders and gave them tips on how to deal with an active shooter

Poway mayor Steve Vaus  (L) accompanies Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein as he arrives at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif.  (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Poway mayor Steve Vaus (L) accompanies Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein as he arrives at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

POWAY, California (JTA) — Poway’s mayor said Sunday that preparations made in the aftermath of the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue “contributed to saving lives” in his hometown.

On Saturday, a gunman entered Chabad of Poway, killing Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old congregant, and injuring three others, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the congregation’s spiritual leader.

Following the October attack at the Tree of Life synagogue complex in Pittsburgh, Mayor Steve Vaus and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department met with Jewish leaders at Chabad of Poway to discuss best practices for an active shooter situation, the mayor said Sunday.

“We memorialized the victims of the Tree of Life massacre, and then we gave them tips about what to do if hate comes knocking at the door,” Vaus said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Tips like, if you can run away, run away; if you can hide, hide; if you can’t hide, challenge the shooter.’”

During Saturday’s shooting in Poway, “all of that happened,” the mayor said, “and I have no doubt that that meeting contributed to saving lives.”

The Oct. 27 attack in Pittsburgh, allegedly carried out by a white supremacist, killed 11 worshippers, the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history. The briefing in Poway took place two days later.

A menorah is tested outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in preparation for a celebration service at sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A gunman shot and killed 11 people while they worshipped Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 at the temple. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The mayor praised one Chabad congregant, an off-duty border patrol agent who he said was able to gain access to a weapon not on his person.

“His courage likely prevented further bloodshed,” Vaus said.

The Poway attack, which took place six months to the day after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, is being treated as a hate crime. The 19-year-old gunman, identified as John Earnest, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

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