Poway Synagogue Holds Online Memorial On Eve Of Shooting Anniversary
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / April 27, 2020
The Chabad of Poway prayed for those suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic and remembered victims of the 2019 shooting carried out by a white supremacist.
Speaker 1: 00:00 A year ago today a gunman went into a Poway synagogue during a service and opened fire killing Lori Gilbert, Kay and wounding three others and online Memorial honoring the victims of the kabod of Poway tragedy took place on Sunday. Rabbi Mendel Goldstein led the Memorial from the empty synagogue.
Speaker 2: 00:18 The pain is real. The loss of glory is ever presence, but we know our focus must be on the future and becoming better people and better Jews. Strengthening our commitments to fulfilling our mandates, to prepare the world for Mashiah through observing another mitzvah, learning our Torah Dean kinder to each other and spreading goodness and share it to everyone around those just as Lori would do
Speaker 1: 00:46 joining me to discuss the tragedy that visited his city, his power. We mayor Steve boss, welcome to midday edition.
Speaker 3: 00:53 Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:54 Now, how did you learn about the shooting on that day? What was your immediate reaction?
Speaker 3: 00:58 I was on my way to a family outing, just a probably three miles from the Habad. Got a call from our Sheriff's captain and I knew it was bad and life had changed at that moment. Turned around, dropped my family off and went to the crime scene and then to the, uh, mobile command post. And that's where I spent pretty much the next 72 hours or so of my life.
Speaker 1: 01:22 And can you talk to me about what those first 72 hours were like?
Speaker 3: 01:26 Oh gosh. You know, just snippets of, of different moments that I'll never forget. Uh, the evening of the shooting, uh, one we had almost an impromptu, uh, vigil at the neighborhood park up the street and, uh, you know, hundreds if not a thousand people came together and we sang God bless America and just spent time with one another. Uh, the next day when rabbi Goldstein returned to Habod and I greeted him on of my favorite pictures or memories it circulated afterwards was somebody grabbed that moment. And I, I treasure that a bittersweet moment. Uh, the huge, uh, rally that we had a at highway high school, Titan stadium a few days later when, you know, we, we filled the place with people that just wanted to, to express their condolences and their love and make sure that our Jewish brothers and sisters knew that we stood with them and that Poway was no place for hate.
Speaker 1: 02:29 Now, what in your view, has been the impact of this shooting on the community of Poway as a whole?
Speaker 3: 02:34 Well, first I've got to say the community still hurts our, our hearts still break for Howard K and Laurie's daughter Hannah, and, and for the rabbi and the others who were injured. Um, but this community is tough. It comes together. Uh, whether it's a wildfire coming over a Hill or a young young person gone missing or a tragedy like this, we come together and we take care of another. So we've wrapped our arms around each other in those dark days and, uh, walked through literally the Valley of the shadow of death and came out stronger and closer to one another.
Speaker 1: 03:10 And how did the shooting and the response to it in Poway change you personally?
Speaker 3: 03:15 You know, my, my grandfather was a minister, my father was a minister. My three brothers are ministers. And I, I've always kind of prided myself on being a black sheep in the family. Uh, but I found out in those days that sometimes mayors have to be ministers to and you have to take care of your community. Uh, so it, it changed my view of my role and I made sure to, to on a day to day basis make sure that the folks around me, uh, know that I'm there for them and they can reach out and, uh, I'll be with them every step of the way.
Speaker 1: 03:49 Had you known Lori personally before the shooting?
Speaker 3: 03:52 I didn't, but I sure wish I had a, she lived literally a quarter mile from my home. And when I came to know her after the tragedy, it was one of those times where you just sit back and say, gosh, I wish I knew that person. She was clearly so special in such a bright light.
Speaker 1: 04:11 And, uh, the local man who was the alleged gunman, he's facing multiple state and federal charges, including the death penalty and talking with Poway residents. What are some common conclusions you heard about how this tragedy reflects on your city?
Speaker 3: 04:24 I don't believe it does reflect on our city. I think people saw the way Poway came together. Uh, the way that their mayor on down stood shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters always happen always. Well, I had been, uh, at the Habod just months before, uh, for an interfaith, uh, training on active shooter situations. So we do things a little differently in Poway. We'd come together on a theater faith basis a couple of times a year at a very minimum. So no, our, our community isn't defined by the shooting. Our, our community is defined by how we responded to it.
Speaker 1: 05:01 What has the shooting reveal about hate crimes in dark internet sites such as eight Chan where the defendant said he spent a lot of time. Were you aware of such hate forums before this?
Speaker 3: 05:09 No, I had had no idea there was such a forum. I think it reminded us that there will always be hatred in the world. Uh, there's no way to get away from that. It will come through your door. It will come through your gate. It will come into your life sooner or later in some fashion. And the only thing you can do is choose how to respond to it. And there's a rabbi said so eloquently, time and time again, the only way to chase out darkness is with light.
Speaker 1: 05:37 Tammy Gilley's regional director of the Anti-Defamation league and San Diego toe, the UT that San Diego may be in a better position to combat hate targeted at Jews because of the awareness raised at the shooting at Havato power. Is there a silver lining here?
Speaker 3: 05:51 I think Tammy may be right. We were really honored to our first responders, uh, just the highest award from the Anti-Defamation league, uh, about two months ago at a special ceremony in Los Angeles. And I think when we, when we shine the light on those who stand against hate, uh, who, who stand for coming together as a community, who stand with their brothers and sisters regardless of their race or religion or orientation, that's how we come back. Such darkness.
Speaker 1: 06:23 Now it's an election year. You're running for a seat on the County board of supervisors. How, in your view, has angry rhetoric throughout our political discourse possibly motivated certain individuals to commit terrible crimes like the shooting and Poway? What's your candidates do about this?
Speaker 3: 06:38 Well, I can only speak for myself. I always try and focus on the positive, uh, the angry political rhetoric from both sides. I don't think it's helpful at all. I look at the situation we're in now with the Corona virus and uh, unfortunately, uh, partisan rhetoric has been ramped up in all of this. Let's just take care of one another. Let's take care of business and, uh, we'll be much better off.
Speaker 1: 07:06 And on this, the one year anniversary of this tragic day, what do you want people to remember or think about?
Speaker 3: 07:11 I think if they remember the way Poway came together, uh, the way, as I said, Poway wrapped its arms around its Jewish brothers and sisters, the way we come together for interfaith gatherings with regularity. That's what I think people will remember about Poway.
Speaker 1: 07:28 I've been speaking with Steve boss, mayor of Poway on the first anniversary of the synagogue shooting there. Thanks very much.
Speaker 3: 07:33 Thank you.