Man charged with 2 hate crimes after allegedly shooting 2 Jewish men in Los Angeles


Los Angeles police have charged a man with two hate crimes after he allegedly shot two different Jewish men earlier this week, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said at a news conference Friday.

The 28-year-old is accused of targeting and shooting two Jewish men “because they were Jewish or he thought they were Jewish” and was “motivated by hatred,” Estrada said.

The man was arrested Thursday and placed in federal custody, he said. He is expected to be arraigned sometime Friday afternoon, he said.

An “exhaustive” search for the suspect was launched after the victims were shot separately in the city’s west Pico-Robertson district on Wednesday and Thursday, about three blocks apart, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

Both victims were Jewish men, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna so. Officials have not publicly identified the victims.

“These attacks against members of our Jewish community in the Pico-Robertson area are absolutely unacceptable,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “In a time of heightened anti-Semitism, these actions have understandably put communities on edge. Just last December, I was standing a few blocks away from where these events occurred as we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah together.”

The shooting comes amid an increase in anti-Semitic violence across the country. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic attacks hit a record high in the US in 2021 – up 34% from 2020.

The suspect was found in Riverside County, about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles, police said. Detectives found more evidence, they said, including a rifle and handgun.

The announcement of the arrest confirmed earlier reporting by CNN, which was the first news organization to report that the suspect was taken into custody.

Earlier, authorities said they were looking for a suspect described as an Asian man with a mustache and goatee, possibly driving a white compact car. A license plate registered near the scene of one of the shootings helped authorities locate and arrest the suspect, a law enforcement source told CNN.

“The facts of the case led to this crime being investigated as a hate crime,” Los Angeles police said.

The FBI is also investigating the attacks as hate crimes, Bass said in his statement.

Federal agents responsible for investigating domestic terrorism and hate crimes are examining the suspect’s past to determine possible violations of federal law, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, the first victim was walking to their vehicle when a man drove by and fired two shots before fleeing the scene, a police spokesperson told CNN.

The next day, around 8:30 a.m., the second victim was walking toward his home nearby when a man drove up and shot at him from inside a car, then fled, the spokesman said.

Both victims were taken to local hospitals and were in stable condition, the spokesperson said.

They were walking home from places of worship when they were shot, said Laura Fennell, director of communications for the Anti-Defamation League West.

The man who was shot Thursday is a member of the Beit El synagogue, which is located about two blocks away from where police say he was shot, the synagogue confirmed to CNN. They did not identify the victim but said his injuries were minor.

– The victim who was shot today is a pillar of our community here at Beit El. He has been a cherished member for many years, Beit El said in an email Thursday. They added: “The victim had just finished morning prayers, walked to his car wearing his kippah and was shot three times at point blank range.”

“Our community has been shaken to its core,” by the two shootings, Beit El said. “But we are strong and united.”

The synagogue said it is working with police to implement security measures. The Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department also said they are increasing police presence and patrolling neighborhoods and Jewish places of worship.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of the concern these crimes have created in the surrounding community. We have been in close contact with religious leaders as well as individual and organizational community stakeholders,” the department’s release said.

The investigation, which also includes state authorities, is ongoing and more information will be released in the coming days, police said.

The Los Angeles shooting came just a week after San Francisco authorities added a hate crime enhancement to charges against a man they said fired a replica gun inside a Bay Area synagogue earlier this month. No one was injured.

The hate crime charge against the suspect is related to statements he made during the incident, as well as social media posts he made with “multiple postings of a person in Nazi-like clothing,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said at a news conference. A lawyer for the suspect, Deputy Olivia Taylor, said outside the courthouse that the man “is not guilty of any hate crime.”

Days earlier in New Jersey, a man reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue in Bloomfield in an attempted arson attack. The suspect is charged with a federal crime.

And in December, a 63-year-old man was assaulted in New York’s Central Park in what police called an anti-Semitic attack.

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