The Pinto Center synagogue in Pico-Robertson. (Photo/Forward-Louis Keene)
The Pinto Center synagogue in Pico-Robertson. (Photo/Forward-Louis Keene)

Man with ‘history of animus toward the Jewish community’ arrested for 2 shootings outside L.A. synagogues

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

An arrest has been made in connection with two shootings of Jewish men in Los Angeles this week that sharply raised fears among Jews there.

“We’ve learned from our law enforcement partners that the single suspect allegedly responsible for both shootings has been arrested,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said in a statement Thursday night.

“We’ve also learned that the suspect has a history of animus towards the Jewish community and these incidents will be treated as hate crimes,” the statement continued.

The police did not immediately name the man who had been arrested. The shootings took place on Wednesday and Thursday mornings just a couple of blocks apart in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood, where streets are dotted with synagogues, kosher restaurants and other Jewish establishments.

Both incidents reportedly took place as the victims were leaving morning prayer services. In the first, a man in his 40s was shot, while in the second, the victim was in his 70s. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

Law enforcement seized a rifle and handgun during the arrest.

“The facts of the case led to this crime being investigated as a hate crime,” the LAPD said in a statement Wednesday evening. “In an abundance of caution, there will continue to be an increased police presence and patrols around Jewish places of worship and surrounding neighborhoods through the weekend.”

Local Jewish day schools clamped down on outdoor play on Thursday, with at least one telling parents that children would need special permission to travel home on their own after school, according to messages shared online by parents. Meanwhile, some Jews told local media that they planned to stay home from synagogue over Shabbat.

The local federation said it was continuing to coordinate with Jewish sites in the area and that the Los Angeles Police Department had “confirmed to us that they are increasing patrols in areas where our community is located.”

Earlier on Thursday, an LAPD officer had told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it did not have any “information that indicates a hate crime” in either incident. The officer, Mike Lopez, said police would be patrolling the area, and and an officer at the Beverly Hills Police Department told JTA that it would be patrolling around Jewish institutions in its area as well. (Beverly Hills is a separate municipality within Los Angeles.)

A statement Thursday morning from Los Angeles’ Jewish federation echoed that assessment, saying that “at this time there is no indication that either incident is a hate crime.”

At the time, police had suggested that two different men were responsible for the incidents. Later on Thursday evening they announced that they believed the same suspect, an Asian man with a mustache and goatee, may have been responsible for both shootings. Shortly after that, they made an arrest.

Ben Sales
Ben Sales

Ben Sales is news editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.