A defendant who allegedly shot two Jewish men leaving synagogues in the Pico-Robertson District in February was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 3 charging him with hate crime and firearms offenses.
Jaime Tran, 28, is charged with two hate crime counts for willfully causing bodily injury and attempting to kill his victims, and two counts of discharging a firearm during a violent crime. A grand jury indictment is commonly used to charge defendants in federal cases, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Tran, a former resident of Riverside, has been in federal custody since being arrested on Feb. 17 in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 9 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
According to the indictment, Tran had antisemitic beliefs and made violent threats ag-ainst Jewish individuals. In 2018, Tran left dental school after making hate-filled statements about other students whom he perceived to be Jewish, the indictment read. From August to December 2022, the defendant allegedly texted antisemitic threats and statements to former classmates, in some cases threatening that they would be killed for being Jewish. Tran also allegedly emailed a flyer to two-dozen classmates last November with antisemitic propaganda tying Jewish people to the COVID-19 pandemic, the indictment read.
Authorities also said Tran allegedly acquired two firearms – a pistol and semi-automatic rifle – before the attacks. He performed internet searches for “kosher markets” to locate areas where Jewish people congregate, the indictment read.
At approximately 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 15, Tran allegedly drove to the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, located an individual wearing a black jacket and yarmulke and shot the man in the back at close range before driving away. At approximately 8 a.m. on Feb. 16, Tran allegedly returned to the Pico-Robertson area, approached an individual wearing a dark-colored jacket and yarmulke and shot the man in the arm before driving away. Both victims survived the shootings.
The crimes prompted an extensive manhunt for the gunman. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation identified Tran after tying him to a vehicle allegedly used in the shootings and tracked him to Cathedral City, where he was taken into custody. Two firearms believed to have been used in the shootings were recovered by police, authorities said.
Tran faces life in federal prison for each hate crime count, and life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for each firearms count. He remains in custody without bail.
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