U.S. Border Patrol agent Jonathon Morales was declared the Police Officer of the Year over the weekend -- six months after he stepped up in the face of terror while off-duty as a gunman opened fire in his synagogue on the last day of Passover.
Morales was honored with the award by the International Association of Chiefs of Police during a ceremony on Saturday.
“Agent Morales instinctively reacted to the horrific, unexpected situation with courage and valor. His performance was above and beyond the call of duty,” IACP said on its website.
On Apr. 27, 2019, a teen armed with an assault rifle fired shots inside the Chabad of Poway on Rancho Bernardo Road and Chabad Way in Poway. The suspect killed worshipper Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and injured three others, rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57; Almong Peretz, 34; and Noya Dahan, 8.
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Morales was inside the synagogue when gunfire broke out. IACP said he quickly rushed through a panicked crowd to retrieve a small revolver handgun.
Morales then rushed the gunman, firing four shots at the suspect as the suspect fled. The off-duty Border Patrol agent missed the gunman but struck the suspect’s car, according to IACP.
"It was supposed to be a joyous, festive event and we were attacked with our backs turned," Morales said in May when he was invited to the White House for the National Day of Prayer. “Brave people stood up and confronted this person and we ended the situation the best we could with the resources we had.”
San Diego law enforcement located and arrested the suspect shortly after Morales and other worshippers chased him out of the synagogue.
The nonprofit, IACP, began in 1893 and has amassed more than 30,000 members in 160 countries, according to its website. The organization said it aims to promote and educate leadership and professionalism within law enforcement agencies.
Following Morales' acceptance, several government officials took to Twitter to congratulate and thank him for his service.