The attack on a California synagogue on April 27th was an appalling crime that struck at the very heart of our freedom of religion — but it would have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for two brave men who, at the risk of their own lives, ran towards the sound of the guns. Now it has emerged that these heroes have dedicated themselves to protecting Americans — one as a Border Patrol agent, the other as a veteran of the US military.
Saturday, April 27th, 19-year-old John T. Earnest posted a hate-filled anti-semitic rant on the internet then set out on a mission of murder. At 11:23 am he entered a synagogue in Poway carrying a sporting rifle and opened fire on the congregation. As we’ve sadly seen in other atrocities, this had the potential to end in a high death toll, but this time a worse tragedy was averted by good luck and heroism.
- When Earnest opened fire, he quickly claimed four victims, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert and wounding three others, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. However, he then had a stoppage with his weapon. Before he could clear it — a process that only takes seconds — and resume his rampage, two members of the congregation stood up and charged at him.
- One of the two was veteran Oscar Stewart. A former US Navy bomb disposal expert, who re-enlisted — this time in the Army — after 9/11, Stewart was sitting at the back of the room when gunfire erupted and his training kicked in.
- Stewart said, “I ran to fire. That’s what I did. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t think about it. It’s just what I did.”
- It looks like it was enough. Confronted by Stewart and another man, the murderer backed down and ran out of the synagogue. As he climbed into his car Stewart tried to grab him, even attempting to break the driver’s window with his fist to reach Earnest.
- Before the killer could escape, Stewart’s fellow hero Jonathan Morales drew his handgun and opened fire on the car, hitting the vehicle. His bullets missed Earnest, but he was arrested two miles away by the San Diego PD.
- Morales is an agent with the US Border Patrol and Rabbi Goldstein had earlier asked him to come to worship armed. That looks to have been a smart precaution.
- This is the second attack on an American synagogue in less than a year, and with anti-semitism increasingly legitimized by the far left, Jewish worshippers have good reason to protect themselves. President Trump — condemned in Earnest’s internet testimony as a “pro-Zionist traitor” — offered his sympathies to everyone affected by the attack.