Federal prosecutors charged a California man with hates crimes Friday for allegedly targeting and shooting two Jewish men in separate incidents as they were departing synagogues in Los Angeles.
Jaime Tran, 28, was arrested Thursday and expected to appear in court Friday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
“At a time of increased anti-Semitism, these acts have understandably set communities on edge,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement Friday, adding, “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.”
When did the Los Angeles shootings happen?
The Los Angeles Police Department said the shootings happened less than a mile apart Wednesday and Thursday mornings in the predominantly Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood of west Los Angeles.
In each of the incidents, Tran shot a man “at close range,” wounding one in the lower back and one in the arm. Both victims were “dressed in clothing that visibly identified their Jewish faith, including black jackets and head coverings,” prosecutors said.
Tran was arrested Thursday in neighboring Riverside County, police said. Officers also found “several items of evidence,” including a rifle and a handgun, police said.
What do we know about the victims?
Both victims were treated at a hospital and released, said Aram Goldberg, a spokesperson for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
“In an abundance of caution, there will continue to be an increased police presence and patrols around Jewish places of worship and surrounding neighborhoods through the weekend,” the department said.
Who is the suspect?
The Jewish Federation said Tran“has a history of animus towards the Jewish community.”
According to the federal complaint, Tran located the Jewish neighborhood “after searching a popular business-review app for a kosher market in the Pico-Robertson district.” After locating the market, he then drove to the area.
Hate crime charges
The maximum statutory penalty for each of the two hate crimes is life without parole in federal prison, prosecutors said.
The incident comes amid a rise in antisemitic incidents. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high of 2,717 in 2021 – a 34% increase over the prior year. That’s the highest number since the group began tracking in 1979.