The Sheepdog and the Armed Defender
“Get down!” Stewart yelled, according to his wife and others who were at the scene. “You motherf**ker! I’m going to kill you!” – Rachel Stoltzfoos, Staff Writer for The Daily Caller
On a high holy day in a California synagogue, another hate-filled evildoer attempted to become the latest mass shooter. Thanks to a veteran and an off-duty border patrol officer, this tragedy was prevented from being much, much worse.
There are a couple of points to be made here: First, this shooting happened in the state of California in spite of the very strict gun control laws that state has. Without detailing all of the “gun safety” laws that failed to prevent this shooting, the most glaring fact is this: the 19-year old shooter used a possibly illegal “AR style” rifle. It is already illegal for anyone to purchase a rifle in the state of California unless they have reached 21 years of age. Secondly, the heroism of an ordinary woman, an unarmed military veteran and another armed defender both ensured that this tragedy wasn’t even worse.
By all accounts, the shooter entered the back of the synagogue and opened fire, killing congregant Lori Gilbert Kaye and injuring three others including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who confronted the shooter and was shot in his hands. Ms. Kaye was the first hero of the day, considering that many news accounts state that she put herself between the attacker and the rabbi, thus saving his life.
While the attack was in progress, a United States Army veteran, Oscar Stewart, heard the shots, and while everybody else was running away, he ran toward the gunshots. Yelling at the gunman in a fierce voice, Stewart apparently spooked the gunman who fled to his car at this point.
Other news accounts state that the rifle jammed after the rabbi was shot and that is the reason the shooter fled the scene. Everyone agrees that another man, an armed off-duty border patrol agent, Jonathan Morales, ran outside and shot at the suspect’s car, attempting to disable it. The suspect was able to drive away and later turned himself in to police.
Agent Morales had started to attend the synagogue to explore his Jewish roots, and upon learning that he was a border patrol agent, Rabbi Goldstein asked him to come to services armed.
This tragedy illustrates that people with the “sheepdog” mentality – Lori Kaye, Oscar Stewart and Jonathan Morales – will engage an active threat to save lives whether they are armed or not. It also illustrates that while Stewart was prepared to engage the threat, it was another armed man – Morales – who would have been able to neutralize the threat if the shooter had not fled the scene as he did. It was truly a “bullets both ways” situation.
This incident also reinforces and validates our mission at Bullets Both Ways: to support the armed defender who is Willing and Able to be a sheepdog; and to enable church and school personnel to receive life-saving training in advanced first aid and combat techniques.
In a world with evil perpetrators, self-defense will always be necessary. We stand ready.
By Richard D. Turnquist
Photo credit: KGTV San Diego