Synagogue hero who charged the gunman: "I scared the hell out of him"

I’m not the real hero, Oscar Stewart insists. That would be Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed at the scene when she stepped in front of a bullet that was apparently intended for her rabbi.

He’s at a loss to explain his decision to rush the shooter after the firing began except to say that, as a veteran, he was taught to run towards fire. The way he describes it, though, makes it more primal: Essentially he went into beast mode. And the degenerate who was there to commit mass murder noticed.

My favorite detail is Stewart, spoiling to get his hands on the gunman, punching the guy’s car in frustration as he tries to flee instead.

“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.”…

“When I came around the corner into the lobby area, I saw the individual with a gun, and he fired two rounds. 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.”

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.

Allegedly he screamed so loudly at the shooter (“You motherf***er! I’m going to kill you!”) that a priest at a church nearby could hear him. The volume plus Stewart’s unexpected fearlessness may have given the gunman such a fright that all he could think to do in the moment was abandon ship. Stewart may have been lucky too, though. He thinks the gunman might have been emptying his magazine right at the moment Stewart first encountered him in the lobby. If he had had time to reload, God only knows how many would have died. Because Stewart arrived when he did, he had no choice but to run.

He told the Daily Caller afterwards that he blames online media for breeding monsters like this: “The whole media thing — people don’t get to know people, and they get to sit in a cocoon, and sit and make opinions on what somebody writes.” I wonder if he knew when he said it how true that was. News is breaking this afternoon that not only did the shooter post his manifesto on — where else? — 8chan around 25 minutes before the gunfire began, it was sufficiently scary that at least one person reported it immediately to the FBI. The feds got the tip minutes before the synagogue was attacked, too late to identify the gunman. Not everyone who saw the post was alarmed by it, though:

The Poway attack seems to be another horrifying entry in a lineage of hate crimes carried out for a captive audience of digital onlookers. Worse yet, these online communities appear to be incentivizing the darkest impulses of their worst users. Like the Christchurch massacre, the Poway shooting is not only tailored for the internet but also sickeningly standardized. The digital footprint and manifestoes of these white nationalist terrorists follow a familiar template — one that each shooter fills in with their own hideous details. Indeed, it seems real-world murderous hate crimes have become a message board meme of sorts. And like any online meme, the creation cycle only seems to be accelerating, refining itself and, horrifyingly, increasing in frequency. Online, it plays out like some game, but its effects are morphing into the real world and spreading violence…

One of the first responses to the 8chan post suspected to be from the gunman was a user imploring, “get a high score.”

It’s gratifying that the gunman not only ran in terror but that Stewart is around to broadcast it to the world. If the prospect of being shot by cops isn’t enough to deter these monsters, maybe the prospect of being humiliated for cowardice by the survivors is.