Jonathan Morales, the off-duty Border Patrol agent whose quick actions likely saved lives in the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, was on a journey of rediscovering his Jewish heritage and brought his weapon to pray after being urged to do so by the rabbi, the Times of Israel reported.
“Morales recently discovered his Jewish roots,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured in the shooting, said at a press conference on Sunday. “He would travel three and a half hours from El Centro to pray with us at our shul. He felt this was his house of worship. And many times I said, ‘Jonathan, you work for the border patrol. Please arm yourself when you are here; we never know when we will need it.’”
When the shooter’s gun jammed, Morales and a fellow congregant, Army veteran Oscar Stewart, attempted to subdue the gunman. Morales later gave chase and fired on the shooter, hitting his car. Goldstein said the gun malfunction was “miraculous.”
Morales was praised by President Trump on Twitter on Sunday. “Sincerest THANK YOU to our great Border Patrol Agent who stopped the shooter at the Synagogue in Poway, California,” Trump wrote. “He may have been off duty but his talents for Law Enforcement weren’t!”
Goldstein had earlier told CNN that his congregation didn’t have active-duty guards that day. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to have an armed security officer at every service, so whenever we had extra help, we were grateful for it,” he said.