After gunshots rang out inside the Chabad of Poway and terrorized worshippers scattered toward safety, a doctor inside the synagogue ran over to help one of the victims.
He started performing CPR but then realized the unconscious woman he was trying to save was his wife. He then fainted, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, was killed Saturday after a man opened fire during a service on the last day of Passover.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said Kaye threw herself in front of him, possibly saving his life. He sustained injuries to both hands but was able to herd a group of young children outside, including his 4-year-old granddaughter.
In a news conference on Sunday, Rabbi Goldstein recounted how when he made his way back inside, he found Kaye on the ground and her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, beside her, "trying to resuscitate her, and he faints. And he's laying there on the floor next to his wife." The couple’s 22-year-old daughter emerged, screaming.
"It was the most heart-wrenching sight I could have seen," Goldstein said. "I was frozen in time."
In addition to the rabbi, Noya Dahan, 8, and Almog Peretz, 34, were injured.
"In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us," Goldstein stated. "This is Lori. This is her legacy, and her legacy will continue. It could have been so much worse."
Kaye was at the synagogue to say kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, for her recently deceased mother.
"The irony is people will be saying it for her now," Dr. Roneet Lev, one of her friends, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Kaye was a "people person" who often rushed to do good deeds, Lev told the paper.
"God picked her to die to send a message because she’s such an incredible person, " she said. "He took her for a higher purpose to send this message to fight anti-Semitism."
Audrey Jacobs wrote in a Facebook post later published in the Jewish Journal that Kaye was "a jewel of our community," and a woman of valor.
"You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and generously gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone," Jacobs wrote.
Kaye was a founding member of Chabad of Poway, located just north of San Diego.
Authorities said John T. Earnest, 19, was arrested after the shooting. He was held without bond in the San Diego Central Jail on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder.