POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) - Two years ago, a gunman opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway, shooting at congregants.
Lori Gilbert Kaye, who was greatly loved in the community, was killed. Three other people, including a young girl, were injured.
Within minutes of the 911 calls, first responders arrived at the scene, including Det. Jess Allensworth with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Allensworth is also part of the team that responded to the Santana High School shooting about twenty years ago.
Upon arrival, Allensworth radioed in information from witnesses as his partner rendered aid to victims inside.
The information he relayed was a description of the suspect who had already left the scene, including his license plate number, information that helped San Diego Police track him down and make the arrest.
He later went in to assist his partner with rendering aid to victims.
"I was supposed to be off that day, but I was working overtime. I was on my way to a disturbance call when the call came out that there were people running and screaming from the Chabad, and it sounded like gunfire," he said. "When we arrived, we could see people running everywhere, and obviously, it was people from inside."
Allensworth and other deputies were later honored for their heroic actions by the Anti-Defamation League.
It wasn’t his first time at the synagogue. Several months earlier, he taught an active shooter safety training course at the Chabad of Poway after a deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
He trained people on identifying red flags and what to do in an active shooter situation.
One of the congregants who participated in that training was also there during the shooting.
"He told me later after the shooting that based on what we discussed in that training, is one of the reasons why he stopped, went back, and confronted the suspect," said Allensworth. "I personally feel that he saved a lot of people."
Allensworth says confronting the suspect should always be the last resort option, like if you’re trapped and have nowhere to go or hide.
He trains people with the Run, Hide, Fight method.
"You see something bad, you run, get away from it," he said. "You’re going to hide the best you’ve ever hid."
If it comes down to it, fight: “You’re going to fight with everything you got, and anything around you’re going to use it as a weapon," he said.
The sheriff’s department offers a free active shooter preparedness course to schools, houses of worship, businesses, and more within their jurisdiction.
“People are afraid to talk about it in their homes like if we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen, but unfortunately it’s happening, so it’s always best to have that plan,” he said.
People interested in the course offered by the department should call and ask to speak to a Crime Prevention Specialist.