Man Pleads Guilty to West Los Angeles Jewish Shootings

Man Pleads Guilty to West Los Angeles Jewish Shootings

A security guard stands watch in front of a synagogue in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2023. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service


Updated: 6/3/2024


LOS ANGELES—A 29-year-old man pleaded guilty June 3 to federal hate crimes and firearms offenses for shooting two Jewish men after they left synagogues in the Pico-Robertson district last year less than 24 hours apart.
Jaime Tran, previously of Riverside, entered his plea to all charges against him: two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge George H. Wu set sentencing for Aug. 5, at which time Mr. Tran is expected to receive a prison sentence of between 35 years and 40 years, according to his plea agreement.
Mr. Tran admitted espousing anti-Semitic beliefs and making violent threats toward Jewish people. For example, in 2018, he left dental school after making hate-filled statements about other students whom he perceived to be Jewish.
From August to December 2022, Mr. Tran’s anti-Semitic statements escalated and he used increasingly violent language, including against a former classmate whom he repeatedly called and texted with threatening messages, the plea agreement states.
In November 2022, Mr. Tran emailed two dozen former classmates a flyer containing anti-Semitic propaganda, including a statement blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on a Jewish conspiracy, he admitted.
As a result of previous mental health holds, as of 2023, Mr. Tran was prohibited from purchasing firearms. In January 2023 in Phoenix, Mr. Tran asked a third party to buy two firearms for him. Mr. Tran selected the firearms he wanted and paid approximately $1,500 in cash to the third party, who then purchased them, prosecutors said.
Mr. Tran acknowledged that on the morning of Feb. 15, 2023, he used the internet to research locations with a “kosher market,” and planned to shoot someone near a kosher market because he believed there would be Jewish people in the area.
Mr. Tran drove to Pico-Robertson and shot a Jewish victim wearing a yarmulke as he was leaving religious services at a synagogue. Mr. Tran, believing the victim was Jewish, shot him at close range in the back, intending to kill him. Mr. Tran then drove away from the scene in his car, his plea agreement says.
The next morning, Feb. 16, 2023, Mr. Tran returned to the Pico-Robertson area, intending to shoot another Jewish person, he admitted. Mr. Tran shot a second Jewish victim, also wearing a yarmulke and leaving a synagogue after attending religious services. Mr. Tran shot the victim at close range, intending to kill him, as the victim crossed the street. Mr. Tran again left the scene.
Both victims survived the attacks. Law enforcement arrested Mr. Tran on Feb. 17, 2023, and he has remained in custody since then.
“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 Los Angeles Field Office, said when the plea agreement was announced.
“I’m relieved that the hard work by investigators and prosecutors led to Mr. 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.”
Jewish Federation Los Angeles issued a statement declaring it is “pleased that justice will be served in the horrific anti-Semitic hate crime committed against two local Jewish community members—a violent act which shook our community.”
“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,” the statement said.
“We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, and LAPD for their diligence in investigating and prosecuting this case, and for their continued work and commitment to protect our community and partner with us to combat hate.”

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