Ex-Riverside Resident Charged in Shootings of 2 Outside LA Synagogues

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
5 Min Read
Jaime Tran

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A 28-year-old former Riverside resident suspected of shooting two Jewish men after they left synagogues in Los Angeles’s Westside less than 24 hours apart is scheduled to be arraigned March 9 on two federal hate crime counts that could put him behind bars for life.

Jaime Tran, who was arrested Thursday by Cathedral City police, was
charged with committing hate crime acts in connection with the shootings,
according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

The complaint alleges Tran targeted the two victims because they were
Jewish or he believed them to be Jewish. Because the complaint contains
allegations Tran attempted to murder the two victims, the maximum possible
penalty for each of the two hate crimes is life without parole in federal

“Over the past two days, our community experienced two horrific acts
we believe were motivated by antisemitic ideology that caused him to target the
Jewish community,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Friday. “It is
important, especially in one of the most diverse areas in the world, that we
celebrate our differences and stand together to oppose acts of hate.”

Tran appeared in Los Angeles federal court Friday afternoon and was
ordered to remain jailed without bail. Magistrate Judge Margo A. Rocconi
scheduled his arraignment for March 9.

The defendant was “motivated by antisemitism,” Estrada said at a
news conference in downtown Los Angeles. “Hate crimes have no place in our

In a Mirandized, recorded interview, Tran acknowledged having
intentionally shot the two victims, according to an affidavit filed in support
of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant.

Tran allegedly told agents he searched for a “kosher” market on the
social media application Yelp. After locating a kosher market, Tran drove to
the market and selected his victims because of their “head gear,” he said,
according to the affidavit.

Based on the description of his vehicle, the suspect was traced to
Riverside County. He was arrested Thursday afternoon when Cathedral City police
responded to a report of a man who had fired a gun and was carrying a weapon
near his car, according to the affidavit.

Detectives recovered several items of evidence — including an AK-
style rifle and a .380-caliber handgun consistent with the weapon believed to
have been used in the shooting, according to the affidavit.

Both victims survived.

At the time of this week’s shootings, Tran was free on $30,000 bond on
a felony charge of possessing a weapon on school grounds — for allegedly
carrying a gun on the campus of Cal State Long Beach in July 2022. He is due
back in Los Angeles Superior Court in that case on Feb. 28.

According to the affidavit, Tran — a former dental student — has a
history of harassing people he suspected of being Jewish.

At the end of November, he allegedly emailed dozens of former
classmates at the dental school, calling the COVID-19 pandemic part of a Jewish
conspiracy. He included a flier in the email listing various government
officials and the word “Jewish” written next to the name of every official,
according to the affidavit.

About a month later, Tran allegedly again emailed former classmates,
describing Jewish people as “primitive” and encouraging his classmates to
blame any “inconvenience” or lost revenue from the COVID-19 lockdowns on the
“Iranian Jew,” according to the document.

Between August and November, he allegedly repeatedly texted a former
classmate antisemitic and threatening messages, including: “Someone is going
to kill you, Jew” and “I want you dead, Jew,” the affidavit stated.

The Holocaust Museum LA issued a statement Friday calling the
shootings “further painful reminders of the stubborn survival of antisemitism,
and it’s growing ugly stain in our community.”

“It threatens Jewish life throughout this country and any haven we
consider safe,” according to the museum statement. “No place on Earth is
immune to the scourge of hate. We commend the quick and steadfast support of
the LAPD and our local leaders.”

Robert J. Williams, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation,
blasted the suspect’s alleged insinuation that Jews were to blame for COVID-19
as “historic antisemitic trope.” He said in a statement the claim “is just
the latest version of the same lie. These events remind us why it’s so
important to combat disinformation.”

Ex-Riverside Resident Charged in Shootings, Jaime Tran
Jaime Tran
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