MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – South Florida’s Jewish community has come together for a Holocaust remembrance ceremony that is expected to take on an especially somber tone in the wake of the deadly synagogue shooting in California.
Attendees at the ceremony, being held Sunday evening at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, said the tragedy at Chabad of Poway, located near San Diego, drove home the reality that anti-Semitism is still alive in this country.
Authorities said 19-year-old John Earnest opened fire inside the house of worship, Saturday morning, fatally striking a woman and injuring three others, including a rabbi.
Miami Beach Police stepped up security for the remembrance ceremony, enclosing the venue with barricades, shutting down nearby roads and using metal detectors to screen attendees.
“We have police presence at this event, and we made sure that all of our local synagogues and worship houses, that we have enhanced security, and we will have that security into the future,” said Miami Beach Police spokesperson Shantell Mitchel.
The solemn occasion takes place as more details about the California shooting continued to surface.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said he was in the middle of his service when the shooter started firing.
“We’re still recovering from the Holocaust. We found a haven to live as free people, and yet we’re being mowed down like animals just like we are in Nazi Germany,” said Goldstein.
Investigators said 60-year-old Lori Kaye threw herself in front of the shooter to protect Goldstein.
Kaye’s husband, a doctor, showed up to try and help the victims. He passed out when he realized his own wife was shot.
Kaye later died at a nearby hospital.
Officials said a 9-year old girl was injured by shrapnel that hit her in the leg and in the face.
“I met the terrorist face to face, eye to eye. He aimed at me. Our eyes locked,” said Goldstein. “Miraculously, I was able to survive, losing my fingers.”
Doctors said Goldstein will likely lose his right index finger.
Police said Earnest was a student at California State University San Marcos.
Investigators said the suspect’s firearm may have jammed, which could be why more people were not hurt.
“The suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody by the San Diego Police Department,” said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.
Sunday’s remembrance ceremony was planned long before Saturday’s tragedy. They’re remembering the six million Jews killed during World War II, and now they’re also remembering the victims in California.
“We were planning to have our usual commemoration, and it is a very moving and important remembrance of what happened during the Shoah, during the Holocaust,” said Jacob Solomon with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, “and then the shooting took place near San Diego yesterday, and we felt it was really important to double down on our efforts to bring people out.”
Officials said Earnest has been booked on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
The remembrance ceremony is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
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