(July 12, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Chabad of Poway in Southern California on Thursday, a month-and-a-half after a gunman killed a woman and injured three others during Shabbat-morning services on the last day of Passover, April 27.
Pence and his wife, Karen, walked into the synagogue to be greeted by Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost a finger in the shooting and whose hands are still recovering from bullet wounds.
“We had to come,” Pence told Goldstein as he entered and received with a hug by the rabbi.
Karen & I were honored to stop by the Chabad of Poway, the site of a terrible shooting in April. To Rabbi Goldstein—your faith & courage is an inspiration to the nation. No one should fear in a house of worship. We will always condemn evil acts of antisemitism. We are with you! pic.twitter.com/mwRYVUwVHB
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 12, 2019
Congregant Oscar Stewart, a U.S. military veteran who, along with off-duty Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales chased 19-year-old gunman John Earnest out of the building and to his car, later joined the Pences and the rabbi.
“He fired on you?” Pence asked Stewart.
Stewart reported that the shooter fired twice at him in the synagogue lobby—missing both times—before attempting to reload his AK-47.
Pence said to Goldstein that his “faith and courage had inspired the nation.”
Goldstein talked on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump shortly after the shooting and soon spoke at the White House about the ordeal, especially dealing with the shooter.
“It was that moment that I made a decision: No matter what happens to me, I’m going to save as many people as possible,” said Goldstein in the Rose Garden with Trump standing behind him.