A U.S. Army combat veteran is being credited with helping stop the man who killed one and injured others at a San Diego synagogue on Saturday.
His weapon of choice? Fear.
Oscar Stewart, 51, was in the Chabad of Poway synagogue when a man entered the lobby firing a semi-automatic rifle. But while the rest of the congregation ran to escape, Stewart ran in the opposite direction.
“Get down!” Stewart yelled, his wife and others who were at the scene told The Daily Caller. “You motherfucker! I’m going to kill you!”
“He was in the act of shooting when I saw him,” Stewart told the Caller. “When I yelled at him he turned and looked at me, and he like froze. And then the look on his face was one of amazement at first, and then one of fear. He saw me coming, and I was ready to do whatever I had to do to stop him.”
Stewart said that others later told him he sounded like four or five people yelling at once, and the Caller reports that a priest at a neighboring church could hear Stewart’s challenge.
“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 said he chased the man all the way to his car and started pounding on the windows. As the man reached for his rifle, an off-duty Border Patrol agent ran up with a firearm and fired several rounds into the vehicle, intending to disable it.
Stewart credits the off-duty agent with saving his life and rejected the idea that more gun control can stop these kinds of mass murders.
“It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,” he told the Caller.
When he returned to the synagogue, he found 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye lying on the ground unresponsive. He helped with CPR in an attempt to save her life, but she died at the scene.
Kaye was reportedly shot while jumping between the rabbi and the shooter, saving the rabbi’s life. Stewart considers her the real hero.
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“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.”
Even though Stewart didn’t use a firearm to stop the shooter, his refusal to become a victim and his willingness to sacrifice himself for others aligns with the motivations of many who carry concealed firearms.
“People in the aftermath here have been saying it’s important to be strong and defend ourselves,” Stewart said. “I also think it’s important to know that being strong and defending ourselves requires a lot of sacrifice too.”