Vet Who Stopped Synagogue Shooting Says He 'Scared the Hell Out of' Shooter
Armed veteran confronted gunman at Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego
The armed veteran, who stopped the shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego on Saturday, has spoken out to reveal that the shooter ran away in fear after he confronted him.
The gunman, who fired a semi-automatic weapon inside the synagogue, froze, dropped his gun and sprinted to his car when he saw Oscar Stewart come barreling toward him.
According to his wife and others who were at the scene, Stewart yelled; “Get down!” - yelling so loud the priest at a neighboring church could hear.
“You motherf**ker! I’m going to kill you!”
Other people who also saw or heard the confrontation later told him he sounded more like four or five people shouting rather than just one man.
Mr. Stewart says he believes that there may have been an angel was standing behind him and speaking through his voice.
Combat vet Stewart immediately gave chase when the shooter ran.
Stewart, 51, told The Daily Caller on Sunday he doesn’t remember any conscious thought from the moment he heard the gunshots until it was all over — he just acted on instinct to stop the shooter and prevent him from leaving so he couldn’t hurt more people somewhere else.
The Iraq combat veteran said his military training kicked in.
“I knew I had to be within five feet of this guy so his rifle couldn’t get to me,” Stewart said.
“So I ran immediately toward him, and I yelled as loud as I could. And he was scared. I scared the hell out of him.”
Stewart served in the Navy in explosive ordnance disposal from 1990 to 1994, then enlisted in the Army in 2001 because of the September 11 terror attacks.
“Looking back, it was kind of a crazy idea to do, but I did it.”
He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and left the military in 2004, a Staff Sergeant.
He’s now in construction work.
When the gunman opened fire, he was in the back of the synagogue.
By the time he got to the lobby, the shooter had killed one woman, blown the finger off of a rabbi, and injured two others.
“I heard gunshots,” Stewart said.
“And everybody got up and started trying to get out the back door, so I — for whatever reason — I didn’t do that. I ran the other way. I ran towards the gunshots.”
“When I came around the corner into the lobby area, I saw the individual with a gun, and he fired two rounds.
"And I yelled at him and I must have yelled very loud, and he looked at me, and I must have had a really mean look on my face or something because he immediately dropped his weapon and turned and ran. And then I gave chase.”
Stewart said he chased him all the way out to his car and began pounding on it — the shooter had managed to lock himself in.
When Stewart saw him reach for a rifle, he punched the side of the car as hard as he could, intending to figure out a way to drag him out of the car — that’s when a Border Patrol agent who attends the synagogue came running out to the parking lot, yelling for Stewart to get down because he had a gun.
Stewart says this man may have saved his life and pointed to his use of a civilian gun — he was off-duty and was apparently handed the weapon by someone else on the scene — as evidence that gun control isn’t the answer to these kinds of tragedies.
The agent fired several rounds into the lower part of the vehicle, intending to disable it, but the shooter managed to drive away.
The two of them then grabbed a phone from someone and called the police to report his license plate. The shooter later turned himself in.
After he sped off, Stewart ran back into the synagogue and found a woman he knew, 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, unresponsive on the floor in the lobby.
He began CPR and continued trying to bring her back to life as a couple of doctors arrived and began to assist him.
She didn’t make it.
The two had talked occasionally, and he remembers her as a passionate and kind woman.
“She had different political views, so we had interesting discussions when we talked,” he said.
“We didn’t just talk about the weather. It was kind of cool. She was a very loving woman.”
Stewart considers her the real hero.
Eyewitnesses said she jumped in front of the rabbi to save his life.
“People in the aftermath here have been saying it’s important to be strong and defend ourselves.
"I also think it’s important to know that being strong and defending ourselves requires a lot of sacrifice too.”
“I don’t know if I consciously made the choice to potentially sacrifice myself,” he added.
“But I did. And this lady, she stood and she jumped in front of the shooter and she saved the rabbi’s life.
"When somebody said I was a hero, I’m like, she was a hero. I just did it instinctively, like an animal.
"There was no conscious decision. I just did it.”
The funeral service for Lori Gilbert Kaye is on Monday and Stewart expects the synagogue will be totally packed out.