(JTA) — A man who was injured in the shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway is suing the Jewish center for not protecting its worshippers.
Almog Peretz was shot in the leg in the April 27 attack. His 8-year-old niece also was injured.
Peretz was shot while gathering children in the synagogue and ushering them to safety. One woman was killed in the attack, and the synagogue’s rabbi was shot and lost a finger.
The lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that the synagogue did not have proper security despite a rise in anti-Semitic attacks nationally and did not use a $150,000 government grant to upgrade security, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Chabad of Poway received the grant a month before the attack because the synagogue “believed that it was at risk of an anti-Semitic attack on its congregants,” according to the lawsuit. On the day of the attack, the building’s doors were unlocked with no guards or other security measures in place, it says.
Peretz plans to sue the gun store that sold the shooter his weapon, as well as the Chabad organization, Fox5 San Diego reported.
Attorney Yoni Weinberg told Fox that the federal government had sued the Chabad of California in 2014 for not using grant money toward security.
The accused gunman in the Poway shooting, John Earnest, 20, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. The murder charge is classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty. Earnest told a 911 operator right after the attack that he did it to save white people from Jews.
“The reports in the media that Chabad of Poway received $150,000 to be used for security through a federal grant prior to the April 27, 2019, attack are simply not true. To imply that the grant funds could have been used for security guards is misleading,” Chabad of Poway said in a statement to JTA.
“While we were approved to move forward with the federal grant application shortly before the attack, it’s a process that can take many months, even years, before the funding comes through. The grant we were approved for did not cover security guards.
״As this is now a litigated matter, we are unfortunately unable to comment further, but hope to provide more information as it becomes available,״ the statement said.