Jaime Tran faces up to life in prison for Wednesday and Thursday shootings
By Sam Catanzaro
Federal prosecutors last week charged a former Riverside resident with two counts of committing hate crimes for allegedly targeting and shooting two Jewish men as they departed religious services outside two Pico-Robertson synagogues over two days.
Jaime Tran, 28, made his first court appearance Friday afternoon after being arrested Thursday evening and charged Friday morning.
“Over the past two days, our community experienced two horrific acts we believe were motivated by antisemitic ideology that caused him to target the Jewish community,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada on Friday. “It is important, especially in one of the most diverse areas in the world, that we celebrate our differences, and stand together to oppose acts of hate.”
The complaint alleges that Tran targeted the two victims because they were Jewish or because he believed them to be Jewish. Both shootings occurred in the same predominantly Jewish neighborhood and both victims were dressed in clothing that visibly identified their Jewish faith, including black jackets and head coverings.
“In addition to targeting innocent people with violent physical attacks, these crimes instill fear in the community. There is no place in Los Angeles and, indeed, the United States of America, for fear to control communities and to intimidate people of faith,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Law enforcement will work together to prevent hate crimes, whether they be civil liberties violations or acts of terror. On behalf of the FBI, I wish a full recovery to the victims who were senselessly attacked for their faith, as well as peace to the Jewish community.”
Because the complaint contains allegations that Tran attempted to murder the two victims, the maximum statutory penalty for each of the two hate crimes is life without parole in federal prison.
Tran allegedly located the Jewish neighborhood by searching a popular business review app for a kosher market in the Pico-Robertson district. After locating the market, Tran allegedly drove to the area, where the first shooting occurred on Wednesday at approximately 9:45 a.m., resulting in a gunshot wound to one victim’s lower back. The second shooting took place on Thursday at approximately 8 a.m., with another victim sustaining a gunshot wound to his upper arm.
The Department of Justice says investigators acted quickly to identify Tran’s vehicle, collect witness statements, and obtain background information used in building the criminal case against him outlined in the criminal complaint.
According to LA City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky who represents the area, the suspect had a history of hostility towards Jews.
“This has been an incredibly difficult and painful week for many in the Jewish community. As many of you know, the Los Angeles Police arrested a man late Thursday night who has been charged in the shooting of two Jewish men as they were leaving shul this week. We now know that the suspect has a history of animus towards Jews, and it is clear that this crime was motivated by hate. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged the suspect with two hate crimes. If convicted on both, he could face up to life in prison,” Yaroslavsky wrote in a newsletter. “These shootings come as antisemitic incidents in Los Angeles rose 29% in 2021, and 217% from 2017 to 2021. According to the Anti-Defamation League of Los Angeles, the number of hate incidents in the city is on pace to surpass last year’s record high. Let me be clear, hate has absolutely no place in Los Angeles, and Jewish people deserve to live our lives free from the threat of violence and anti-semitism. I am committed to rooting out hate in all forms across Council District 5 and our city. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a hate crime, please report it by calling 911, 311 or 211.”