- A gunman opened fire at a synagogue outside of San Diego, California on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three.
- Several people, including the synagogue’s rabbi, have been applauded as heroes for their actions to help others.
- The attacker turned himself in shortly after the shooting, and now faces one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Shooting at Chabad of Poway
A gunman opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California on Saturday, killing one woman and injuring three others.
The attacker fled the synagogue after his gun jammed, escaping by car. However, shortly after fleeing, the gunman called the California Highway Patrol to report his location. He then surrendered to a police officer who responded to the scene.
The attacker was then taken into custody and charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, according to a press release from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The press release also stated that officials believed the shooter was acting alone and gave no indication that he was part of an organization.
Heroes Emerge After Attack
Following the shooting, a number of people are being hailed as heroes for the actions they took during the crisis.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who is the leader of the synagogue, has been applauded for his efforts to protect and unify his congregation both during and after the attack. Rabbi Goldstein was preparing his sermon for the day when he heard shots ring out in the synagogue’s banquet hall.
He then turned around and was confronted by the gunman, who shot the rabbi in the hand, badly injuring him. After being shot, the Goldstein ran to help a group of children escape outside to safety.
Members of the synagogue have commended Goldstein’s leadership, saying that despite his injuries, he did not leave his congregation until he had finished calming them, speaking of resilience and unity.
Goldstein was later taken to a hospital where he lost an index finger after undergoing extensive surgery.
Others, including the rabbi himself, have applauded Oscar Stewart, a veteran who chased after the gunman and tried to tackle him. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged Stewart in a press release, saying: “Stewart risked his life to stop the shooter and saved lives in the process.”
Rabbi Goldstein also praised Johnathan Morales, an off-duty border patrol, who chased after the gunman when he fled the synagogue. Morales reportedly followed the attacker to his car and shot at the vehicle while the gunman drove away.
Donald Trump also echoed this in a tweet, thanking Morales. Although to be clear, Morales did not succeed in stopping the attacker.
Finally, Rabbi Goldstein has commended Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the member of the synagogue who was shot and killed by the gunman. During an emotional press conference on Sunday, Goldstein reflected on her life, which he believed she sacrificed for the congregation.
“In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us. She didn’t deserve to die,” said Rabbi Goldstein. “This is Lori. This is her legacy, and her legacy will continue. It could have been so much worse if the sequence of events didn’t happen the way it happened, it could have been a much worse massacre.”
Social Media Aspect
Saturday’s attack fell on the last day of Passover, which is one of the holiest days in Judaism. Authorities, including the mayor of Poway, have condemned the shooting as a hate crime.
The attack also comes six months to the day after a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Saturday’s attack bares another significant similarity to other religious attacks that have been seen recently: the use of social media.
According to reports, the attacker had a helmet camera and was trying to live stream the shooting, but fortunately, his video equipment failed to work. This move was seemingly inspired by the Christchurch attacker, who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand while live streaming the massacre.
Additionally, a man claiming to be the attacker posted on the anonymous message board 8chan, linking to an “open letter” and a Facebook page, claiming that the attack would be broadcast on Facebook live.
In the letter, the writer identifies as an “anti-Semite” and “white supremacist.” The writer references the shooters at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue and the New Zealand mosques as well as Adolf Hitler as role models.
The writer also confessed to setting fire to a mosque in Escondido, California last month, and explicitly dedicated the fire to the Christchurch shooter. The letter also included instructions for spreading the news of the planned shooting and called for others to commit more violent hate crimes.
Law enforcement and other authorities are still investigating if the letter was in fact written by the shooter.
The Facebook page that linked in the 8chan post has since been disabled on the platform. While Facebook was able to identify and block the page before it became widespread, the letter was reproduced on the text storage site Pastebin before Facebook was able to take it down.
The Pastebin link was circulating on Twitter for hours after the shooting, and it was shared nearly 100 times before Twitter blocked the link.
In an article, Slate reported that while Twitter and Facebook seemed to be removing the links and the open letter, the letter itself was “easily found when searching for key details about the shooting on YouTube.”
“According to the site, the video has since been removed for not adhering to its community guidelines,” Slate reported.
The letter and its social media presence were contained a lot faster than the Christchurch shooting live stream. Video of the Christchurch attack was viewed and reposted millions of times while social media sites like Facebook and Twitter scrambled to take it down. This latest attack could have had similar social media reach had the gunman been successful in his efforts to stream his crime.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Post-Prom Party With Booze, Weed, and Stripper Poles Shut Down Before It Could Begin
- An after-prom party at an Airbnb in Florida that was stocked with weed, alcohol, and stripper poles was shut down by police before it even started.
- Martin County police heard about the rager from a school security guard and decided to put a stop to it without any arrests.
- Authorities said the alternative was to wait for the party to start and then arrest minors that attended, but because there would be underage drinking that option was unacceptable.
A massive post-prom party stocked with weed, alcohol, and stripper poles at an Airbnb in Florida was shut down by police hours before it was set to begin on April 12th.
Each student paid $80 which included a ride on one of the three party buses taking people to the house. The fee also gave access to party favors which like pre-rolled joints, jello shots, a variety of booze, and beer.
Bathrooms on the second and third floors of the house had been turned into makeshift bars that were stocked with alcohol. There was plastic covering the floors, stripper poles had been installed, balloons floated on top of the swimming pool, stereo speakers and strobe lights were set up, and garbage cans filled with ice were in the garage.
“My understanding was that they intended to have a Jello/bikini dancing contest,” said Lt. Ryan Grimsdale, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “They were almost on the buses,” said Lt. Grimsdale “But they never got on the buses and the buses never left Palm Beach County.”
Breaking It Up Before It Starts
Martin County authorities heard about the party from a school security guard at West Boca Community High School. When they contacted the property manager for the Airbnb, she was “in awe and rather shocked” by the party preparations. Since the party violated the rental agreement, it was voided.
According to the incident report, Thomas Levin, 19, rented the property and admitted to organizing the bash, but said that he had no clue who “brought all of the liquor and drug paraphernalia.” Because the sheriff’s office could not put the alcohol or drugs in anyone’s possession there were no arrests made.
“In order for us to have made an arrest, we would have had to allow the party to take place, which places the kids in danger, which places the community in danger, and our mandate is public safety,” said Lt. Grimsdale according to WPEC.
However, a woman that lives down the road from where the party was to take place is conflicted about the way this all went down. “I was happy that it did not happen, but at the same time a little surprised that there were no arrests,” Natalia Martin told WPEC, “I wouldn’t trust that was enough of a deterrent for them not to do [it] somewhere else.”
See what others are saying: (Sun Sentinel) (WPEC) (CBS Miami)
Hacienda HealthCare Rape Victim Likely Pregnant Once Before, Documents Claim
- A woman with severe intellectual disabilities gave birth in December after being raped at a Hacienda HeathCare facility.
- Her family has now filed a notice of a $45 million claim against the state of Arizona for poorly monitoring the facility.
- According to the claim, the staff disobeyed the family’s wishes to have a female-only care staff and missed at least 83 opportunities to diagnose the pregnancy.
- The documents also claim that the woman was violated repeatedly and may have even been pregnant one other occasion prior to this incident.
According to a newly filed claim, the severely intellectually disabled woman who gave birth last year after being raped at a Hacienda HealthCare facility may have been pregnant at another point in the past.
The family of the woman has filed a claim against the state of Arizona for doing an “abysmal job” monitoring Hacienda HealthCare. The private facility houses patients that are paid for by the state’s Medicaid program and its cases are also managed by the state.
On December 29th, the severely intellectually disabled woman gave birth, which shocked her family members and captured nationwide attention.
According to the woman’s medical records, she is nonverbal and has no functional use of her arms or legs. She had received care at the Hacienda HealthCare facility since she was three years old and was seemingly unaware of the fact that she was even pregnant.
After an investigation, one of the woman’s caregivers, licensed practical nurse Nathan Sutherland, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He has since pleaded not guilty, but did voluntarily gave up his nursing license.
Multiple people, including the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, stepped down after the news broke and the facility is now being overseen by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to the notice of claim, the family had requested for the woman to have female-only care staff because of her vulnerability. However, male staff members were repeatedly allowed in her room unsupervised.
This request was apart of her ISP or Individualized Service Plan, which the facility is required to follow. Despite this, according to the claim, Sutherland provided care for the victim more than 1,000 times, including more than 800 times overnight.
The notice also says that the facility repeatedly failed to notice that she was pregnant and even denied her food in an effort to get the victim to lose weight. Because of this, the claim states that she gave birth, “without any pain medication and in a state of malnutrition.”
According to the claim, records indicate that staff at Hacienda missed at least 83 opportunities to diagnose the victim’s pregnancy. Those opportunities include:
- Missed menstrual periods.
- 10 visits to a physician during the victim’s third trimester.
- Three instances where staff noted a large and hard mass in her abdomen.
- 24 instances where staff noted her abdomen was “sticking-out.”
- Noted weight gain at least eight times between September and December 2018.
- 12 instances where staff noted that her feet and legs were swelling.
The claim also cites a note from the Maricopa County Medical Center, who examined the victim after she gave birth. That note states: “On inspection of patient’s vagina and introitus it is determined that this is a non-nulliparous event.” This means that the victim may have been pregnant prior to this incident.
The notice of claim seeks a $25 million settlement for the victim and $10 million each for her parents. If the family and the facility do not come to an agreement within 60 days, the lawyers will take the case to court.
Judge Allows Parents to Use Dead Son’s Sperm to Make a Grandchild
- A judge has allowed the parents of a deceased West Point cadet to use their son’s sperm for reproductive purposes.
- The family claims their son long dreamed of having kids and says this will allow for his legacy and family name to be carried on.
- The ruling has raised several ethical concerns over whether or not it is okay to posthumously reproduce without someone’s consent.
Judge Rules That Sperm Can Be Used
A New York Supreme Court justice ruled that the parents of a West Point cadet who died in March can retrieve his sperm and use it for reproductive purposes.
Peter Zhu was injured in a skiing accident in on February 23. Four days later, the 21-year-old was pronounced brain dead.
However, because Zhu was an organ donor his body was kept alive for a few more days. During this time, his parents, Yongmin and Monica Zhu received a court order that allowed for his sperm to be retrieved as doctors were removing his organs for donation. At this time, it was unclear if they would actually be able to use the sperm.
Mr. and Mrs. Zhu claimed that it was their son’s wish to have children. They said that using his sperm would allow for the family name to be carried on and keep their son’s legacy alive.
In the judge’s ruling, there are several claims that Peter Zhu would often talk to his parents about “his dream of having several children, and the responsibility he felt to carry on his cultural and family legacy.”
On May 17, Justice John Colangelo granted his parents the right to use his sperm.
“At this time, the Court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter’s parents may ultimately put their son’s sperm, including its potential for procreative purposes,” he wrote in the ruling.
As of now, it is unclear what kind of plans Mr. and Mrs. Zhu have for using the sperm, and it looks like they might wait before using it.
Justice Colangelo added in his ruling that when and if they choose to use it, it would not tarnish their son’s legacy.
“Should his parents choose to do so in the future, it would not do violence to his memory,” he wrote.
Case Raises Questions of Ethics
This ruling raised questions many have been asking for a long time regarding the ethics of posthumous procreation.
The first posthumous retrieval of sperm was reported back in 1980, and the first birth as a result of the process was reported almost two decades later in 1999. Since these cases, many have questioned whether or not consent from the deceased should be required before using their genetics to reproduce.
In Zhu’s case specifically, his parents did not have his direct permission to use his sperm in the event of his death. However, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu cited a paper he wrote at school, where he said his dream in life was to get married, have kids, and pursue a career in the military.
Several reports have been written over the years on this topic with differing opinions as to whether or not this would be enough consent to carry out the process.
A peer-reviewed journal report published in the year 2000 called Human Reproduction noted that there are grey areas.
“Written consent or verbal consent documented by a health care provider is not an absolute requirement, although such documentation would be desirable,” the report concluded.
The report did expand upon its point and acknowledged that while family members might have conflicts of interest when it comes to using the sperm, there are still cases when it could be ethical.
“It is possible that in some cases a reasonable inference can be made if the patient has previously discussed these matters with family members,” the report continued.
However, a 2018 ethics report from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine emphasized a stronger need for consent.
“Posthumous gamete (sperm or oocyte) retrieval or use for reproductive purposes is ethically justifiable if written documentation from the deceased authorizing the procedure is available,” their report says.
But it goes on to make one exception, saying “In the absence of written documentation from the decedent, programs open to considering requests for posthumous use of embryos or gametes should only do so when such requests are initiated by the surviving spouse or partner.”
In most cases where someone asks to use a sperm or embryo posthumously, the request is usually coming from a surviving spouse. However, Zhu’s case is not the first involving a request from parents.
In 2007, a court in Iowa granted a request by parents to retrieve their son’s sperm so that they could donate it to their son’s fiance.
A judge in Texas granted a mother the right to have her son’s sperm retrieved when he died at the age of 21 in 2009. She intended to hire a surrogate to carry his child.
Next Steps for the Zhu Family
Now that a judge has made a ruling, there are several steps for Mr. and Mrs. Zhu to take that could be complicated.
According to the New York Times, finding a surrogate willing to carry the baby may not be easy. The same goes for finding a fertility clinic willing to give the sperm to the surrogate so the baby can be raised by its grandparents.
The Times also reported that some hospitals have restrictions on how long they are willing to hold the sperm of a deceased person.
But Westchester Medical Center, which is in the county the ruling was given in, gave a statement to the Washington Post about the situation.
“From time to time, like most hospitals, Westchester Medical Center is presented with complex legal and ethical situations where guidance from the court is appropriate and appreciated,” they said before adding that they are “grateful the family sought a court order during such a difficult time.”