Suspect in LA shootings of Jewish men in 2023 will plead guilty


(JTA) — The suspect who was arrested in February 2023 for two shootings of Jewish men as they left synagogues in Los Angeles has agreed to plead guilty to all of the charges he is facing, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Jaime Tran, 29, will plead guilty to two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a violent crime. Under the plea agreement, Tran will receive a prison sentence of 35 to 40 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Had the case gone to trial, Tran would have faced a potential life sentence.

According to U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada, Tran, who had a previous track record of antisemitic behavior, “sought to murder two men simply because they were Jewish.”

The attacks took place on consecutive days in February 2023 in Pico-Robertson, a heavily Jewish neighborhood in L.A. Tran drove to the area and shot a man wearing a kippah as he left a synagogue, then returned the following morning and shot a second man, also wearing a kippah and exiting another synagogue blocks away.

Both victims survived with only minor injuries. Tran was arrested the following day and has remained in custody since.

According to the U.S. attorney’s statement, Tran paid someone to buy guns for him in Arizona in January. Prosecutors had previously said Tran researched kosher supermarkets before committing the attacks, and was influenced by an antisemitic flier he saw that blamed Jews for COVID-19. He also also had a history of mental illness.

The statement said Tran left dental school in 2018 after making a series of antisemitic remarks and continued to harass former classmates online. Between August and December 2022, it said, Tran told a former classmate, “I want you dead, Jew,” “Someone is going to kill you, Jew,” and “Burn in an oven chamber.”

“The defendant’s hatred led him to plan the murder of two innocent victims simply because he believed they were practicing their Jewish faith,” said Krysti Hawkins, the acting assistant director of the FBI’s L.A. office, according to the release. “I’m relieved that the hard work by investigators and prosecutors led to Tran’s admission to these abhorrent crimes, and hope that members of the Jewish community take some solace in knowing that he will not be in the position to target their fellow members.”

L.A.’s Jewish federation said in a statement that it was “pleased that justice will be served in the horrific antisemitic hate crime committed against two local Jewish community members.” The federation also thanked local and federal law enforcement.

The statement added, “At a time when antisemitism has skyrocketed across the country and in Los Angeles, this news sends a strong message that our city will have zero tolerance for violent acts of antisemitism.”

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