One woman was killed and several others were injured during the shooting at the Poway synagogue in San Diego over the weekend—an assault that was reportedly cut short due to the bravery of one of the men who is finally speaking out about his actions.
BizPac Review reports that man is “U.S. Army veteran Oscar Stewart, who served in the Navy from 1990 to 1994, then enlisted in the Army in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks.”
According to Stewart, he acted on a mixture of rage and courage.
“Get down!” the 51-year-old veteran shouted at his friends and family, before taking action, the Daily Caller reports.
Stewart then shouted at the shooter before rushing him and forcing him to flee.
From the Daily Caller:
Others who were there later told him it sounded like four or five people were shouting. He thinks maybe an angel was standing behind him and speaking through his voice. When the shooter ran, he immediately gave chase.
Stewart, 51, told The Daily Caller on Sunday he doesn’t remember any conscious thought from the moment he heard the gun shots until it was all over — he just acted on instinct to stop the shooter and prevent him from leaving so he couldn’t hurt more people somewhere else. The Iraq combat veteran said his military training kicked in.
“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 was in the back of the synagogue when the shooter first began his assault. As shots continued to ring out, the veteran made his way to the lobby where the shooter had already killed one woman.
“I heard gunshots,” Stewart said via the Daily Caller. “And everybody got up and started trying to get out the back door, so I — for whatever reason — I didn’t do that. I ran the other way. I ran towards the gunshots.”
“When I came around the corner into the lobby area, I saw the individual with a gun, and he fired two rounds,” the veteran continued. “And I yelled at him and I must have yelled very loud, and he looked at me, and I must have had a really mean look on my face or something, because he immediately dropped his weapon and turned and ran. And then I gave chase.”
Here’s even more from the report:
Stewart said he chased him all the way out to his car, and began pounding on it — the shooter had managed to lock himself in. When Stewart saw him reach for a rifle, he punched the side of the car as hard as he could, intending to figure out a way to drag him out of the car — that’s when a Border Patrol agent who attends the synagogue came running out to the parking lot, yelling for Stewart to get down because he had a gun.
Stewart says this man may have saved his life and pointed to his use of a civilian gun — he was off-duty and was apparently handed the weapon by someone else on the scene — as evidence that gun control isn’t the answer to these kinds of tragedies. “It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,” he told the Caller.
The agent fired several rounds into the lower part of the vehicle, intending to disable it, but the shooter managed to drive away. The two of them then grabbed a phone from someone and called the police to report his license plate. The shooter later turned himself in.
Stewart said he was overcome in the moment and acted boldly amid the fear by some unknown force. He does not consider himself a hero but a “person just like you.”
“I don’t know if I consciously made the choice to potentially sacrifice myself,” Stewart said per the report. “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.”
He continued: “If you’re ignorant and you don’t know what people are like, you don’t know that I’m a person just like you. I go to work every day in a manual labor job. I’m not some, you know, supposedly he said in his manifesto that the Jews control this and that — I don’t control anything. I go to work just like you every day. He didn’t know that.”
“If he had gotten to know me, he would know that I’m a great person, that I’m a nice guy, that I’m a very caring person,” he added via the Daily Caller. “My apprentices — they all love me. They say that I’m the best teacher in the world, you know, that I care, that I try to teach them, and if he had known any of these people … like the lady Lori who died. She would go give Easter baskets to kids and that’s not even a Jewish thing, you know … she was just a warm person.”
“The most important thing I want to share is that we need to know each other,” he concluded. “If you make an opinion on anyone, you need to know what they’re about, and who they are. You can’t generalize and say every blue person is evil because they’re blue. That’s ridiculous.”