Man Arrested In Connection With Shootings Of Two Jewish Men In Pico-Robertson Faces Federal Hate Charges
A Riverside man who had what authorities described as "a history of antisemitic and threatening conduct" has been arrested in connection with two shootings this week in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in West Los Angeles.
In a federal criminal complaint filed Friday, the suspected shooter is identified as 28-year-old Jaime Tran. He is being charged with federal hate crimes.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney's office said that Tran has been charged with with two counts of hate crime, and he was ordered jailed without bond Friday afternoon. His arraignment is scheduled for March 9 at the Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.
At a press conference where they unveiled the complaint, federal prosecutors said Tran shot and wounded two men on two consecutive mornings, on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, in the Pico Robertson neighborhood, home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.
According to the complaint, "Tran admitted that he was responsible for shooting someone in the Los Angeles area earlier in the day. Tran stated that he had looked up a 'kosher market' on Yelp and decided to shoot someone in the area of the market." The complaint adds that Tran "said he knew the victims he shot were Jewish because of their 'head gear.'"
About the shootings
The shootings occurred on the mornings of Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 within several blocks of each other on S. Shenandoah Street and S. Bedford Street. Each of the victims was shot as he was leaving a morning prayer service.
In the first shooting, on Shenandoah Street, a man in his 40s was shot in the back on Wednesday at about 10 a.m. while he was walking to his car. In the second shooting, at about 8 a.m. Thursday, a man walking home from a prayer service was shot in the arm.
The victims were both shot at close range. They were not identified.
What we know about the motive
The criminal complaint says Tran was expelled from a dental school in 2018 after sending profane, antisemitic texts and emails to a Jewish classmate. One included a photo of a gas chamber.
He also emailed dozens of his former classmates last December blaming COVID lockdowns on the Jewish community.
We are horrified by the apparent antisemitic shootings in Los Angeles, but grateful that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect. Moments like these remind us why it's so important for every community to have a Community Security Initiative like @JFedLA. #LiveSecure https://t.co/lraYpDkGLe— The Jewish Federations of North America (@jfederations) February 17, 2023
How officials are working to keep the community safe
A spokesperson for the LAPD told LAist on Friday that in an abundance of caution, they would be an increased police presence and extra patrols around Jewish places of worship and surrounding neighborhoods throughout the weekend.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, in a statement tweeted out on Thursday night, said that LASD will also increase patrol checks around Jewish synagogues and Jewish centers in their jurisdiction.
. @LASDHQ is aware of two incidents in which two male Jewish adults were shot in West LA.— Robert Luna (@LACoSheriff) February 17, 2023
LASD will increase patrol checks around Jewish Synagogues and Jewish Centers in our jurisdictions. Patrol stations will remain vigilant and report any threats of violence to Major Crimes. pic.twitter.com/eH13CI5LTR
LASD Sergeant Roger Bertola at the West Hollywood station — the closest to the shooting location — told LAist on Friday that they had approximately eight Jewish synagogues in their area, and that they were actively doing patrol checks at those locations.
Bertola said that the station’s operations sergeant had reached out to Jewish leaders in the area to connect after the tragedy.
Captain Giovanni Trejo at the Beverley Hills Police Department told LAist on Friday that they have also deployed “additional resources” around all their places of worship within city boundaries. “The need for this deployment will be assessed daily,” he said.
City councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky and Mayor Karen Bass have both condemned the shootings in statements.
Bass called the attacks "absolutely unacceptable," adding that "anti-Semitism and hate crimes have no place in our city or our country."
"Those who engage in either will be caught and held fully accountable. At a time of increased anti-Semitism, these acts have understandably set communities on edge ... my pledge to the Pico-Robertson community and to the City of Los Angeles as a whole, is that we will fight this hatred vigorously and work every day to defeat it."
Yaroslavsky described the shootings as "deeply concerning."
"While there remain questions on the motivation of these particular shootings, we cannot ignore the pain and trauma that they have triggered in the community. Jewish people deserve to live our lives free from the threat of violence and anti-semitism."
In addition, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón issued this statement Thursday:
Statement on Pico-Robertson shootings: pic.twitter.com/JbQ5qPw3UL— George Gascón (@LADAOffice) February 17, 2023
How we're reporting this
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez will be talking to people in the Pico Robertson community. Criminal justice senior reporter Emily Elena Dugdale is reporting on the law enforcement response to the shootings. Tyler Wayne contributed to this reporting.
Anthony Lowe was shot and killed by Huntington Park police on Jan. 26. 'Thank goodness that we’re in the era of videos,' said the family attorney as they file a federal civil rights lawsuit
In a memo, Chief Michel Moore said “extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views.”
LAPD Chief Moore also questioned officers' actions in the fatal shooting of Takar Smith, although not in two other fatal incidents.
In a conversation with LAist, the new sheriff acknowledges that, as an outsider, "I have my work cut out for me" in winning the support of the department's rank-and-file.
He was elected in 2018 after running as a progressive Democrat who would reform the department. He ended up fiercely resisting oversight and clashing with watchdogs and the rest of the county’s political establishment.