The man accused of wounding two Jewish men in a pair of hate-motivated attacks in Los Angeles earlier this week had been previously arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded gun at Cal State Long Beach, according to authorities.
Jaime Tran, 28, has a history of antisemitic behavior, according to federal prosecutors, and he’s now facing two federal hate crime counts for allegedly wounding Jewish men as they left synagogues in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. Court records show he was out on bail at the time of the attacks after being arrested last summer at CSULB.
University officials said that Tran was taken into custody July 3 when someone reported he was possibly armed and sitting on a campus bench. When officers located Tran, a CSULB alumnus, they discovered he was in possession of a stolen firearm and took him into custody without any problems, according to an email sent to students Friday.
Tran was not acting in a threatening manner when he was arrested, according to Scott Apel, CSULB’s vice president for administration and finance, and school officials decided at the time not to notify the campus about the incident because there was “no active threat to the campus community.”
Tran was charged with the illegal possession of a loaded firearm at a college and was released on bond after pleading not guilty. The amount of his bail wasn’t immediately available.
At the time, Tran had no previous criminal record, and the District Attorney’s office wasn’t aware of any allegations of threats against the Jewish community, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said, according to media reports.
But in the months after his arrest, Tran began emailing former classmates from a dental school he’d been expelled from in 2018, according to an FBI affidavit, which cited emails, text messages and unspecified reports.
In the emails, he used insulting language about Jewish people, and he threatened a Jewish former classmate, repeatedly sending them messages like “Someone is going to kill you, Jew” and “I want you dead, Jew,” according to the FBI affidavit.
On Wednesday, Tran allegedly carried out the first synagogue attack, in which he shot the victim at a close range from a vehicle, authorities said. On Thursday, he allegedly shot a second victim in the upper arm, also at close range from a vehicle. In both cases, the victims—who both survived—were wearing clothing that identified their faith, including black coats and head coverings, authorities said.
Tran was arrested Thursday about 100 miles east of Los Angeles in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, after officers located him standing next to the car used in the shootings, authorities said. An AK-style rifle and a .380-caliber handgun could be seen in the car, according to an affidavit filed by the FBI.
Following his arrest Thursday, Tran admitted to authorities that he had looked online for a “kosher market” and decided he would shoot somebody nearby, according to the affidavit.
He also admitted that he was responsible for shooting someone in Los Angeles earlier in the day and said he chose the victims because of what they wore on their heads, according to the affidavit.
After Tran’s arrest, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said, “We can rest hopefully a little bit easier.” But, she acknowledged during a news conference Friday that, “Antisemitism and terror are tragically on the rise across our city and across our nation.”
In 2021, hate crimes surged in Los Angeles to their highest level since 2002, and they overwhelmingly included acts of violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The most-targeted groups, according to the Los Angeles Times, were Black, Latino, Jewish and LGBTQ individuals.
Meanwhile, in Long Beach, hate crime reports declined, bucking a national trend for cities with similar populations.