Army veteran rattled San Diego synagogue shooter by shouting ‘I’m going to kill you’ before chasing him out into the car park
51-year-old Oscar Stewart was praying inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue when 19-year-old John Earnest opened fire at the congregation
A US Army veteran who chased down the gunman during Saturday's synagogue shooting in San Diego thanked god for giving him "the courage to do what I did" and said "I am not a hero." The shooting left one dead and three others injured.
The 51-year-old veteran, identified as Oscar Stewart, was praying inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue when he heard gunfire and ran towards the sound.
Stewart stormed into the lobby and spotted the gunman, 19-year-old John Earnest, opening fire on worshippers with a semi-automatic rifle. The veteran, while talking to the LA Times, said that he immediately screamed for everyone to "get down" and that was the moment when Earnest pointed his weapon at Stewart, but the gun reportedly jammed.
Stewart then shouted "I'm gonna kill you!" at Earnest which left the teen rattled as he began to flee the scene. The former Army sergeant did not stop there and chased the gunman into the parking lot where Earnest leapt into his Honda. Stewart approached the car and banged the side of his car, it was then when the shooter dropped his rifle to begin the ignition.
An off-duty Border Patrol agent, Jonathan Morales, exactly at that moment shot four bullets into the car as Earnest sped off into the distance. He was later arrested.
Stewart, while talking to the reporters, said: "I've been told that I may have saved some lives - I never thought about that I think... I just did what I did."
"I'm not a hero or anything, I just did it. I thank God that he gave me the courage to do what I did," he added.
The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Stewart as saying he served in Iraq from March 2003 to April 2004. He had also been a bomb disposal tech in the Navy, and joined the Army after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the report said.
The shooter opened fire in the synagogue just as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway had been finalizing his sermon for the last day of Passover. Reports state that a worshipper present there, 60-year-old Kaye — a good friend of the Rabbi — noticed the shooter and placed herself between him and Goldstein, dying in the process.
Goldstein hailed the heroic acts of the worshippers who risked their lives to save others on Saturday and described the gunman, saying: "I turn around and I see a sight that I - indescribable. Here is a young man standing with a rifle, pointing right at me. And I look at him. He had sunglasses on, I couldn't see his eyes, I couldn't see his soul. I froze."
As Earnest opened fire, Goldstein got injured too, eventually losing his right index finger to a bullet despite a four-hour surgery to try to save it. The injured rabbi rushed toward the children who were still playing in the banquet hall together them out.
The children also included his four-year-old granddaughter. An Israeli "war veteran" Almog Peretz also assisted him in this effort and got injured in the process, with a bullet in his leg.
It was then when Earnest's assault weapon jammed and Stewart turned up. The rabbi praised the veteran for his efforts to stop the shooting and saving more people from getting hurt.