Hate Crimes Accused of Injuring 2 Jews in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who allegedly shot and wounded two Jews as they left a Los Angeles synagogue this week was charged Friday with federal hate crimes.
Jaime Tran, 28, is believed to have carried out the attacks in the early hours of Wednesday and Thursday, US Attorney Martin Estrada said at a news conference.
“In the last two days, our community has experienced two horrific acts,” Estrada said. “A man motivated by anti-Semitism, hatred of people in the Jewish community, committed two extremely horrific acts against people because of their Jewish faith.”
Both victims wore clothing that identified their faith, including black coats and hats, Estrada said. Tran, who was arrested Thursday night, told law enforcement that he had searched the Internet for a “kosher market” and decided to shoot someone nearby, according to an affidavit filed with the FBI. He also admitted to shooting someone the day before, the affidavit said.
Tran was scheduled to appear in federal court Friday afternoon but was not expected to enter a guilty plea, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Chan’s federal public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The first victim was shot at close range in the lower back, Estrada said. The second victim was shot in the upper arm, also at close range. In both cases, shots were fired from a vehicle.
Chan said he chose the victims because of what they were wearing on their heads, according to the FBI affidavit.
Tran has a “history of anti-Semitic and threatening behavior,” the affidavit said, citing a review of emails, text messages and unspecified messages. In 2022, he sent an email to former classmates with offensive language about Jews and threatened a former Jewish classmate, saying he wanted them dead, according to the affidavit.
“We are lucky that we are not going to a funeral. This is just reality,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center at a Friday press conference. “Tomorrow, we will go to the service with the children.”
Tran was arrested about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Los Angeles in the Riverside County community of Cathedral City, near Palm Springs.
Los Angeles police officers investigating the second shooting used video from an intersection camera to identify an older model gray Honda that appeared to be involved, according to an affidavit.
A responding officer saw and photographed a man driving a dark gray Honda Civic. The photo shows a license plate that was registered to Tran, whose driver’s license photo matched a witness description of the shooter, the affidavit said.
License plate readers showed the Honda was in the area of the two shootings when they happened. Police identified a cell phone number associated with Tran, and location data showed he was in the Palm Springs area Thursday afternoon.
Around 5:45 p.m., Cathedral City police responded to a call from a person who heard gunshots and saw a man with a gun outside a Honda Civic.
Officers found Tran standing next to the vehicle, and they saw an “AK-style rifle” and a .380 caliber handgun in the driver’s seat, the affidavit said. Officers also found a spent shell casing.
The U.S. Attorney said Tran was a Riverside resident.
In an interview with the FBI, Tran said he had been homeless and living out of his car for 12 to 14 months and that he had obtained the firearm from a man he did not know in Arizona, the affidavit said.