Mother of One Killed in Calif. Synagogue Shooting Died Saving Rabbi, Says Her Best Friend
"The last day of Passover was just so heart wrenching and heartbreaking," Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said of Lori Kaye's death
During a service on the last day of Passover, a woman was killed in the synagogue she called her second home.
Lori Kaye was killed Saturday at Chabad of Poway near San Diego, California, after a suspected 19-year-old gunman opened fire on the nearly 100 people inside, according to authorities. Kaye, 60, is survived by her husband and 22-year-old daughter.
Three others — a girl and two men — remain in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
“Lori was my best friend and second mother to all my children. She was a pillar of our Jewish community, grew up in San Diego and touched many lives,” Dr. Roneet Lev, Kaye’s best friend, tells PEOPLE.
“She gave her life to save our rabbi’s life, that’s the kind of person she is,” Lev says.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, was shot in the hand when Kaye stepped between him and the gunman. The rabbi suffered what appears to be defensive wounds to both of his index fingers, a doctor at the Palomar Medical Center told CNN. (Those who were injured were taken to Palomar Medical Center, according to police.)
“Lori is holy now because she died on the Sabbath, on the holiday in the synagogue saving our rabbi,” Lev says. “My Jewish community believes God is good. The tremendous pain and agony we are suffering, only good can come out of her death.”
Describing Kaye as a selfless friend, who often provided to others, Lev says, “Anyone who would have known her, knows her for her giving. She goes out of her way. If she could bring kindness to the world, she did through her actions.”
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Goldstein also remembered Kaye as a loving person and a friend of nearly 30 years.
“She is a steadfast member, supporter, philanthropist — just a kind soul,” he told host Willie Geist on NBC’s Sunday Today, also sharing how he was able to start the congregation 35 years ago with Kaye’s help.
“Passover is about celebration, about unity and freedom and for this to occur on the last day of Passover was just so heart wrenching and heartbreaking,” Goldstein said.
Calling the Chabad tragedy a “senseless killing” of his close friend, Goldstein said Kaye’s death will not go in vain.
“I pray for healing in this time of pain and grief and I ask that we all do something to add more light to combat this evil darkness that’s out there,” he said. “That can happen through acts of compassion and loving kindness.”
A law enforcement source told ABC News on Saturday that it appeared that the suspect, who is a San Diego resident, fired more than 10 rounds.
“[We were] outside in front of our house and heard about six gunshots, a pause, some yelling and then another six or seven gunshots,” neighbor Chris Folts told ABC News. Folts then called 911.
Authorities said an off-duty Border Patrol agent fired at the gunman as he was fleeing the scene. The Border Patrol agent did not hit the suspect.