Federal prosecutors on Feb. 17 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 Los Angeles synagogues over a two-day period.
Jaime Tran, 28, was expected to make his first court appearance that afternoon after being arrested Thursday evening and charged Friday morning.
The complaint alleges that Tran targeted the two victims because they were Jewish or he believed them to be Jewish. 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.
“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 U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “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.”
“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.”
“I am proud of the outstanding work by our investigators in the identification and apprehension of the individual responsible for these hate-inspired attacks,” said LAPD Chief Michel Moore. “Additionally, I applaud the actions of our officers to quickly bolster our visibility in the impacted communities that were terrorized.”
The complaint alleges that Tran committed two hate-motivated attacks last week. Both shooting incidents took place in the Pico-Robertson district of Los Angeles.
In the first incident, which took place on Feb. 15 at approximately 9:45 a.m., Tran allegedly shot a victim at close range as the victim was leaving religious services at a synagogue. This victim survived the shooting, but he suffered a gunshot wound to the lower back.
In the second incident on Feb. 16 at approximately 8 a.m., Tran allegedly shot a second victim at close range soon after he left religious services at a different synagogue in the same neighborhood. This second victim survived, but he sustained a gunshot wound to his upper arm.
Both shootings occurred in the same predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles and both victims were dressed in clothing that visibly identified their Jewish faith, including black jackets and head coverings.
The evidence uncovered during the investigation indicates that 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, Tran allegedly drove to the area, where the first shooting occurred. According to the complaint, Tran returned to the area the following day when the second shooting occurred.
Investigators acted quickly to identify Tran’s vehicle, to collect witness statements, and to obtain background information on Tran that are outlined in the criminal complaint.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI and the LAPD are investigating this matter. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Cathedral City Police Department and the Fountain Valley Police Department provided substantial assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathrynne Seiden and Maria Jhai of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Frances Lewis of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section are prosecuting this case.