POWAY, Calif. — A victim of the Poway synagogue shooting is now suing the Chabad of Poway for not doing enough to protect worshippers.
Attorney Yoni Weinberg represents victim Almog Peretz, who was shot on April 27.
“Chabad was told many times by its congregants that the lack of security was a huge problem,” Weinberg said Tuesday.
They plan to sue the gun store that sold the shooter his weapon and the Chabad organization for not protecting worshippers from harm.
There was mixed reaction after the announcement. Some say the synagogue should have done more to prevent the tragedy, while others say the lawsuit is self-serving.
Weinberg said that a year before the attack, the Chabad of Poway applied for a $150,000 federal grant to upgrade security. The funds were awarded a month before the attack but Weinberg questions where the funds went.
“Why on a Passover night, where Chabad knew that the amount of congregants would be exponentially higher than usual and therefore make it at a higher risk of attack, did they not have a single security guard?” Weinberg said.
One of the survivors, Oscar Stewart, is credited with scaring away the shooter, also spoke to FOX 5.
“I am shocked to hear the Chabad of Poway was awarded a $150,000 grant towards security and nothing was done or even planned," Stewart said.
A woman who goes to the synagogue but did not wish to be identified said she feels Weinberg's client is just trying to be retaliatory and grab money for himself.
“They say they didn’t have enough time but we see right through that,” Weinberg said. “They had plenty of time.”
Weinberg also noted the Chabad of California has been sued by the federal government in the 2014 for not using grant money towards security.
“It cost them the life of one of their congregants. And the quality of life of several others including my client, Almog Peretz.”
Weinberg said the Chabad of Poway is raising $40,000 to renovate its Mikvah bath house. He and his client are demanding the Chabad organization create a new bank account for security instead.
“Almog from day one made it clear that he would not accept one penny from them if Chabad does not open up a separate bank account meant exclusively for security,” Weinberg said.
FOX 5 reached out to the Chabad of Poway several times. The head of security said it would not be making a comment while undergoing legal proceedings.