Jaime Tran is a former dental school student accused of shooting Jewish men as they were leaving religious services at Los Angeles, California, synagogues.
According to a federal complaint, Tran is accused of two shootings on February 15 and 16, 2023. The complaint also accuses Tran of exhibiting a history of antisemitic comments, accusing him of texting, “Someone is going to kill you, Jew,” and “I want you dead, Jew,” along with a slew of other remarks, the complaint says.
You can read the full criminal complaint in the case here. Be forewarned that the language in it is very graphic and disturbing as it accuses Tran of making antisemitic comments to former dental school classmates.
A press release emailed to Heavy from the U.S. Department of Justice says that Tran, 28, formerly lived in Riverside, California.
“These attacks against members of our Jewish community in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood are absolutely unacceptable,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “It is my understanding that both the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI are investigating these incidents as hate crimes so I want to be very clear: anti-Semitism and hate crimes have no place in our city or our country. Those who engage in either will be caught and held fully accountable.”
“At a time of increased anti-Semitism, these acts have understandably set communities on edge,” she added. “Just last December, I stood blocks away from where these incidents occurred as we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah together. Now, my pledge to the Pico-Robertson community and to the City of Los Angeles as a whole, is that we will fight this hatred vigorously and work every day to defeat it.”
“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,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada in the news release. “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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Complaint Accuses Jaime Tran, Who Said He Was Homeless, of Shooting a Jewish Man Who Was Getting Into His Car
Tran told police he was homeless and had been living out of his car for 12 to 14 months, the complaint said. It says he said he “obtained the firearms from someone he did not know in Arizona.”
According to the federal complaint charging Tran with federal hate crimes, on February 15, 2023, Tran is accused of intentionally shooting the first victim at close range as the victim left religious services at a Los Angeles, California, synagogue. The victim was in his 40s, according to ABC 7.
The victim was dressed “in a manner that visibly identified his Jewish faith, specifically, a black jacket and a head covering,” the complaint says. It says the victim was shot in the lower back but survived.
The first victim said that he was leaving religious services at 9:45 a.m. at a synagogue near the 1400 block of Shenandoah Street in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, the complaint says. As he walked to his car, he was approached by a 1980s to 1990s Honda Civic, which drove up behind the driver’s side of his car and then slowly moved toward him, according to the complaint. As he opened his driver’s side door, he heard a loud bang, felt a sudden pain, and realized he had been shot, the complaint says.
A witness told police he heard two gunshots and then saw the Honda speed away. He stayed with the victim until police arrived, the complaint says.
Another witness said she and her husband “saw an Asian male in his late 30s driving a gray sedan slowly on Shenandoah street with all the car windows rolled down,” the complaint said. According to this witness, the man was “wearing a black beanie and a dark sweater, with a mustache or a goatee.” She had noticed the car driving around the neighborhood several times, the complaint adds.
2. The Second Victim Was Also Dressed in Clothing That ‘Visibly Identified His Jewish Faith,’ the Complaint Says
On February 16, 2023, Tran is accused of intentionally shooting the second victim, who, too, was leaving religious services at another synagogue a block away, the complaint says. The second victim was also dressed in clothing that “visibly identified his Jewish faith, again a black jacket and a head covering,” according to the complaint, which says he was shot in the bicep but survived.
This victim was in his 70s, ABC 7 reported.
Victim two told police he was leaving religious services at 8 a.m. near the 1600 block of South Bedford Street, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, the complaint says.
As the victim approached the intersection and was waiting to cross the street, he saw a dark-colored sedan driving down the street and made eye contact with the driver, according to the complaint. He heard three loud shots and realized that he was shot, the complaint says.
The second victim only briefly “saw the suspect, whom he described as male, white, approximately 30 to 35 years old, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a black surgical mask, and black glasses,” the complaint says.
Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky tweeted, “These two shootings are deeply concerning. We have seen a rise in antisemitic attacks in recent months, and while there remain questions on the motivation of these particular shootings, we cannot ignore the pain and trauma that they have triggered in the community.”
3. Jaime Tran, Who Was Arrested With an ‘AK-Style Firearm,’ Researched Kosher Markets on Social Media, the Complaint Says
Tran was arrested on February 16, 2023, after he was accused of discharging an “AK-style firearm” near a vehicle.
The complaint says that Tran admitted that he shot the two victims after searching for a “kosher” market on social media.
“Kosher foods are foods that conform to the Jewish dietary regulations,” the complaint says. Tran located a kosher market, drove to it, and selected victims because of their “head gear,” the complaint says.
4. Jaime Tran Is Accused of Having a History of Antisemitic Conduct Toward Former Dental School Classmates, Including Calling Jewish People ‘Primitive’ & Sending a Picture of a Gas Chamber
The complaint accuses Tran of having “a history of antisemitic and threatening conduct.”
In December 2022, he is accused of describing Jewish people as “primitive” in emails to former classmates, the complaint says.
He encouraged his classmates “to blame any ‘inconvenience’ or lost revenue from the COVID-19 lockdowns on the ‘Iranian Jew,'” the complaint says.
Tran repeatedly called and texted a former dental school classmate who is Jewish, the complaint says, which adds that Tran used to attend the school. That former classmate said Tran was expelled in 2018 and made antisemitic remarks before being expelled, the complaint says. In 2022, Tran texted the former classmate, “f****** Jew. Piece of s*** Jew. F*** you Jew. Jewish Jewbagel Jew,” the complaint says. He is also accused of writing, “f*** you piece of literal f****** s*** Jew. You f****** dips***. I hate you like f****** crazy you f****** stupid pathetic loser subhuman trash ugly disgusting worthless senseless Jew,” the complaint says.
Other similar threats were also written to the student, the complaint says, including, “I want you dead, Jew. Someone is going to kill you, Jew,” and so forth. He is also accused of sending the former classmate a picture of a gas chamber, writing, “burn in an oven chamber you b**** Jew.”
In November 2022, he is accused of emailing dozens of former classmates at the same dental school, writing that “Persian/Iranian Jew of the Class of 2020 made up a fake, bs disease (COVID) and based it on the anesthesia incident that I had,” the complaint says.
He also sent a flier of government officials with the word “Jewish” written next to their names, the complaint says.
The complaint says Tran titled an email: “IMPORTANT Announcement to … [the] School of Dentistry,” says the complaint, which accuses Tran of telling his classmates, “If you were ever inconvenienced and/or denied entry because of the masking policy or the proof of
vaccination policy, you should be upset at the Iranian Jew. If you, or a loved one’s business lost revenue by the lockdowns, you should be upset at the Iranian Jew.”
5. Tran Is Accused in a Shots Fired Incident in Cathedral City
Officers obtained video footage that shows the suspect vehicle in the first shooting, according to the complaint.
A Los Angeles police officer helping investigate saw a “male Asian in his 30s, wearing a surgical mask and a black hoodie, driving a dark gray Honda Civic,” took a photograph of the car, reviewed video footage and then obtained the license plate, the complaint says.
The vehicle was registered to Tran, the complaint says. Police then identified Tran’s location through his mobile phone number and determined he was in the Palm Springs area, the complaint says.
On February 16, 2023, at approximately 5:45 p.m., the Cathedral City Police Department “received a call about a man with a gun in the area of Cathedral City,” the complaint says. “The calling party reported hearing a shot fired and seeing a man with a firearm near a Honda Civic.”
The police found Tran standing next to the driver’s side door, the complaint says. “On approaching the car, the officers saw in plain view on the driver side front seat an AK-style rifle and a .380-caliber handgun, consistent with the firearm believed to have been used in the shootings, based on shell casings left at the scene,” the complaint says. “Officers also found a spent casing consistent with having been discharged from an AK-style rifle.”
In a recorded interview with the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI agents, Tran “admitted that he was responsible for shooting someone in the Los Angeles area earlier in the day,” and said he decided to shoot someone in the area of a kosher market he looked up on Yelp, according to the complaint. He also acknowledged shooting the second victim, the complaint says. Tran told authorities he knew the victims were Jewish because of their “head gear,” the complaint says.
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