WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - D.C.'s mayor and police chief joined members of the city's Jewish community Monday evening to pay tribute to victims of the synagogue shooting in California.
Among those who gathered in front of American Friends of Lubavitch in the Kalorama neighborhood were several people who are from the small town of Poway and attended the synagogue where the shooting happened.
"I got a text from one of my friends, he said, 'Are you OK? What happened at your synagogue?" said Ellis Messian, who recently graduated from George Mason University. "And I called my mom immediately, and I found out the news. And to hear that she was almost going to be there-it was kind of almost last minute that she decided not to go to synagogue. It was such a shock."
Rochelle Behrens says she attends Chabad of Poway when she goes home to visit family. She had been considering a trip to California for that weekend, but didn't go.
"I sort of froze because I couldn't believe what I was reading," said Behrens. "My parents, who I called right away, were fortunately out of town, so they were far away from the incident, but my heart dropped and I don't think I've picked it back up since."
The D.C. event was happening at the same time as the funeral procession in California for Lori Kaye, the 60-year-old woman killed as she protected Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein from the shooter.
Brandon Messian, a George Washington University student who knew Kaye, says he wasn't surprised by her heroic actions. He says Kaye was integral and devoted to their synagogue.
"Just to realize that she was the first one to be killed is heartbreaking, but at the same time, if she wasn't there, it could've been a lot worse," said Messian.
Rabbi Goldstein, who lost a finger in the shooting, spoke to the crowd by phone to thank them for their support.
"To connect with your group of people is so meaningful to us to help with our recovery," Goldstein said.
He said they've seen an incredible outpouring of love from around the world.
"Just 48 hours ago there was darkness and now there is light," he said.