The rabbi of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue reportedly requested that one of his congregants, who is also an off-duty U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent, carry a gun while attending religious services, in case an attack took place.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was wounded Saturday in the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting, told news media at a Sunday press conference that Jonathan Morales had recently discovered his Jewish roots and was very committed to his new faith.
Morales was reportedly armed and fired on the shooter on the day of the attack.
“Morales recently discovered his Jewish roots. He would travel three-and-a-half hours from El Centro to pray with us at our shul,” Goldstein stated.
He also said that he had asked Morales many times to carry a gun with him to services preemptively, in case need for it should arise.
“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.’”
Morales, who was in fact carrying a gun the day of the attack, had reportedly opened fire on suspected gunman John Earnest as he was fleeing the synagogue. Combat veteran Oscar Stewart reportedly confronted Earnest as his gun likely jammed, then chased him to his vehicle in the parking lot.
When the suspect entered his vehicle, Morales began to open fire at the base of the car, attempting to disable it. Stewart says Morales’ covering fire “may have saved his life” in the situation. (RELATED: Combat Vet Who Stopped The Synagogue Shooter: ‘I Scared The Hell Out Of Him’)