Doctor Began CPR on Synagogue Shooting Victim Before Realizing She Was His Wife

A doctor who was in the California synagogue where a shooter opened fire on April 27 began CPR on a shooting victim, not aware that it was his wife.

Authorities said that John Earnest, 19, shot four people inside the Chabad of Poway before fleeing the scene. He was arrested later in the day.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was identified as one of those injured.

Gilbert-Kaye’s husband Dr. Howard Kaye, a physician, was in the synagogue when the shooting started. He was called over to help the victims and began to do CPR on one, a female.

San Diego Poway Synagogue shooting
People hug each other outside the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, in Poway, Calif., on April 27, 2019. (Denis Poroy/AP Photo)
Memorial for victim killed at San Diego Synagogue shooting
A makeshift memorial was placed by a light pole a block away from a shooting incident where one person was killed at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, Calif., on April 27, 2019. (John Gastaldo/Reuters)

When he realized it was his wife, he fainted, Dr. Roneet Lev, director of emergency operations at Scripps Mercy Hospital, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Gilbert-Kaye died from her wounds.

Witnesses said that she had thrown herself in front of Yisroel Goldstein, the founding rabbi of the synagogue, possibly saving his life. He was hit by two bullets but is expected to survive.

“God picked her to die to send a message because she’s such an incredible person,” Lev said. “He took her for a higher purpose to send this message to fight anti-Semitism.”

Posted by Lori Gilbert-Kaye on Friday, August 19, 2016

Audrey Jacobs, a friend of the victim, said that Gilbert-Kaye was “always running to do a mitzvah [good deed] and gave tzedaka [charity] to everyone.”

“Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life. Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter. When Lori was shot, she wasn’t next to her husband, Howard, who’s a doctor. People screamed for help and he ran to give CPR to the fallen victim, when he looked at who it was, HIS WIFE, he fainted,” Jacobs wrote on Facebook.

According to Gilbert-Kaye’s Facebook page, she was a senior account manager at Pro Specialties Group Inc., an advertising agency. She had grown up in San Diego and lived in the city.

A close friend, Lisa Busalacchi, who knew the victim since grade school, said friends weren’t surprised that Gilbert-Kaye died confronting the shooter.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on April 28, 2019. (Denis Poroy/AP Photo)
Candlelight vigil San Diego Synagogue Passover Shooting Prayer
A candlelight vigil at a church honoring victims of the Chabad synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., on April 27, 2019. (John Gastaldo/Reuters)

“When we heard what happened, we all said to ourselves, ‘Yes, that’s how Lori would have wanted to go,’” Busalacchi told The Union-Tribune. “I’m pretty sure if she could have picked a place to die, that would’ve been it. She died how she lived.”

“She always knew what the need was, and she met it,” added Barbara Levine, another friend.

Goldstein told reporters at a press conference on Sunday that he saw Gilbert-Kaye step in front of the shooter and believes her sacrifice saved not only his life, but others as well because the shooter’s gun jammed not long after she was shot.

“In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for us all. She died to protect all of us … This is Lori, this is her legacy and her legacy will continue,” Goldstein said.