LAPD amps up patrols near Jewish worship spaces after shootings outside synagogues

'The community is really afraid,' said Rabbi Noah Farkas, with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Photo by Michael Förtsch/Unsplash/Creative Commons

(RNS) — The Los Angeles Police Department will have increased police presence and patrols around Jewish places of worship as a precautionary measure this weekend after the shootings of two Jewish men outside synagogues over the last two days.

Jaime Tran was arrested and charged with federal hate crime acts in connection with the Wednesday and Thursday shootings, according to the Los Angeles Times. Tran allegedly told police he had searched for a kosher market on Yelp before the shootings, the Times reported.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which has been communicating with law enforcement, said the suspect in the shootings “has a history of animus towards the Jewish community.”

“The facts of the case led to this crime being investigated as a hate crime,” the LAPD said in a statement, noting the agency had recovered a rifle and a handgun during the investigation. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said both men who were shot were Jewish and said his agency is also increasing patrol around Jewish centers. 

Rabbi Noah Farkas, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said this pair of shootings is not completely surprising, given a recent wave of public antisemitic incidents in the L.A. area.

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Last fall, President Joe Biden’s administration was among those who condemned a group of L.A. demonstrators who gave Nazi salutes on a 405 Freeway overpass and held several banners, including one that read “Kanye is right about the Jews,” referring to recent antisemitic statements by the musician.

“The community is really afraid, and they’re angry because all of us could have predicted this six months ago when the whole Kanye West thing happened,” Farkas told Religion News Service. “We know that hate speech leads to hate crime … It’s historically proven.”

The federation has been working to ensure safety through an initiative that provides “security monitoring and training” for the nearly 600 Jewish sites in L.A. County.

Since the first shooting happened on Wednesday, Farkas said they’ve been communicating with rabbis, lay leaders, law enforcement and elected officials “so that our institutions … can make the best security decisions for themselves.” They’ve also been working with clergy “to help them communicate well with their community.”

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Farkas said the federation will be hosting a town hall next week, with L.A. Mayor Karen Bass confirming her attendance, to make sure “our community and our government understands the depth of what this means for us as a Jewish community.

“I wish we weren’t in this situation … It’s unfortunate,” Farkas said. “This is what it means to be Jewish in America today.”

Bass issued a statement on Thursday, noting that both the LAPD and the FBI are investigating the incidents as hate crimes. “… anti-Semitism and hate crimes have no place in our city or our country,” she said in the statement. 

The Community Security Service, regarded as the leading Jewish volunteer security organization in the U.S., said in a statement that it is “closely monitoring” the situation and “working with its trained security volunteer leadership and teams on the ground, local law enforcement, and national Jewish communal security partners, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

“We stand ready to continue ensuring the utmost safety and physical security of Jewish institutions nationwide,” the statement read.

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