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Pico Shootings Suspect in Custody [UPDATED]

[additional-authors]
February 16, 2023
Mark Edward Harris/Getty Images

LATEST UPDATE: The LAPD announced that a suspect was arrested and taken into custody at around 5:45 p.m. on February 16. after tracking him to Riverside County; they found a rifle and a handgun among multiple pieces of evidence connecting him to the shootings. They are investigating the matter as a hate crime and are working with state and federal authorities on it. Police patrols will still be ramped up in Jewish community areas throughout the weekend as a precautionary measure. Both Young Israel of Century City and Beth Jacob Congregation sent out emails to their members, both of which were obtained by the Journal, saying that they would be beefing up their security after the shootings.

Mayor Karen Bass tweeted, “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. These acts have understandably set communities on edge. In December, I stood blocks away from where these shootings occurred as we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah. Now, my pledge is to fight this hatred vigorously and work every day to defeat it.”

 

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said in statement they are “grateful to our law enforcement partners” and that the matter would be handed over the FBI and the U.S. Attorney. Previously, Gascon’s office had expressed horror over the shootings and that they “stand in solidarity with members the Jewish community and against these acts of violence.”

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said in a statement that the arrest was a “sigh of relief” for the Jewish community. “We are aware that the case is being investigated as a hate crime and look forward to learning more about a possibly hate-driven motive.”

The Jewish Federation  of Greater Los Angeles said in a statement, “We are incredibly grateful for law enforcement’s diligence in apprehending the suspect. We have also learned that the suspect has a history of animus towards the Jewish community and these incidents will be treated as hate crimes. As such, we are encouraged to also have learned that the U.S. Attorney will take the case and file federal charges on civil rights violations. Our Community Security Initiative continues to be in touch with local law enforcement to make sure our Jewish community is being kept safe. LAPD has confirmed to us that they are increasing patrols in areas where our community is located. We have reached out and are coordinating with Jewish sites in the vicinity.”

American Jewish Community (AJC) Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut tweeted that they are “relieved that the suspect in the Pico-Robertson shootings has been arrested. We commend @LAPDWestLA for their relentless pursuit of the alleged perpetrator and for treating these attacks as presumptive hate crimes. Keeping a community safe requires community-wide engagement. As horrific as the shootings were, we are heartened by the cooperation between @LAPDHQ and a host of community organizations. This is police-community relations at its best.”

Community Security Service CEO and National Director Evan Bernstein said in a statement, “Although questions remain about motive, the fact that two visibly identifiable Jewish individuals were allegedly shot in the same vicinity by the same shooter over consecutive days raises legitimate concerns about the nature of the attacks. From a security perspective, we are deeply concerned over the timing and locations of the two incidents taking place as a possible desire to inflict harm on the Jewish community. Throughout the course of the LAPD’s search and ongoing investigation, we deeply appreciated not only their vigilance, but also the fast allocation of resources to provide a strong presence in the immediate area where members of the community are feeling vulnerable – particularly as Jewish communities across the country are experiencing a rise in antisemitism.”

He added: “The Los Angeles Jewish community should be reassured that the CSS Western States office is closely monitoring 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 Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) also said in a statement that they express their “gratitude to the Los Angeles Police Department, led by Chief Michael Moore, for the remarkable job they did in identifying, tracking down and arresting a man who shot and wounded two Jewish Angelinos on consecutive days as the exited prayers at a local synagogue. Throughout this crisis, SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper was in touch with top officials of the LAPD led by Chief Moore. The SWC reiterates it’s call to Los Angeles Mayor Bass and elected officials at the Los Angeles City Council to take immediate steps to fully fund and properly train more police so that all Angelinos in every neighborhood will no longer have to fear for their safety.”

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) said in a statement that he was “alarmed” by the shootings. “I am grateful both victims were not seriously injured,” he said. “Although the motivations for these two incidents are still being investigated, I continue to be concerned by the numerous malicious and antisemitic acts we’ve seen targeting members of the Jewish community in recent years. What’s more, these shootings compound the distress many of us were already feeling from mass shootings in Monterey Park and Beverly Crest earlier this year. No one should risk their lives to go to a dance or to religious services. I will continue to work with local and federal authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors, and will continue to push for gun safety measures.”

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has issued a press release this afternoon stating that the February 15 and 16 shootings on Pico Boulevard “may have involved the same suspect”: an Asian male with a goatee driving a white compact vehicle. “The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of the concern these crimes have raised in the surrounding community,” the statement said. “We have been in close contact with religious leaders as well as individual and community stakeholders. In addition, we are re-allocating police resources to provide a highly visible preventative presence in the area.”

Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said in a statement, “The LA Jewish community is on high alert following two possibly related shootings in the past 24 hours. We remain in contact with law enforcement who have made this a priority investigation and we urge everyone to exercise caution and report anything suspicious to the police.”

 

Original:

A second Jewish man was shot in the Pico-Robertson area in as many days.

The Los Angeles Scoop first reported on the shooting, saying that the victim, who is in his 70s, was shot in the arm on S. Bedford and Pico Boulevard after leaving synagogue on the morning of February 16 and is in stable condition. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) told the Journal that the shooting occurred on the 1600 block of Bedford Street and that the suspect is believed to be a white male wearing a black mask, black glasses and a black sweater armed with a 9 millimeter handgun. The suspect is still at large and is driving an older model Hyundai sedan that is either black or brown.

Magen Am President Rabbi Yossi Eilfort said in a statement, “It is sickening that in Los Angeles today, two Jews have been shot in the street in two days as they were leaving prayers. Regardless of the motivation of the shootings, Jews deserve to be secure, living and serving G-d in peace.” He added that Magen Am is urging the city “to take a strong stand on behalf of the Jewish community.” “LAPD is currently saying there is no specific information indicating this was driven solely by antisemitism,” Eilfort said. “We await detectives’ updates. While the city does that, *we* choose to focus on what *our* community  can do. We are a *strong* community and we need to show this to the world. Magen Am has placed all of our protected schools, guard, and volunteers on a heightened alert.”

He concluded the statement with a call for the community to learn “situational awareness and self-defense” and to either volunteer or support security teams for Jewish institutions. “We are all in this together,” Eilfort said.

Mayor Karen Bass tweeted, “These attacks against members of our Jewish community are unacceptable. My office is monitoring these incidents and I am working closely with [City Councilwoman] Katy Yaroslavsky, [Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO] @RabbiNoah [Farkas], and other community leaders to ensure that ALL Angelenos feel safe.”

Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said in a statement to the Journal, “For the second time in as many days, a member of the Jewish community was assaulted with a deadly weapon leaving a house of worship in the Pico-Robertson area. At this time, it is unclear if the two incidents are related. LAPD is investigating the incidents and continues to work with ADL. We will continue to share information as we learn more. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said in a statement, “We are aware of two separate shooting incidents involving members of our Los Angeles community. One occurred yesterday near the intersection of Shenandoah and Cashio Streets, where a Jewish man was shot but has survived. Another shooting happened this morning near the intersection of Pickford and S Bedford Streets. While at this time there is no indication that either incident is a hate crime, our Community Security Initiative has been in touch with local law enforcement to make sure our Jewish community is being kept safe. At this point, LAPD has confirmed to us that they are increasing patrols in areas where our community is located. We have reached out and are coordinating with Jewish sites in the vicinity. We will keep you updated with any further details.”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut said in a statement to the Journal, “Within 24 hours, two members of the LA Jewish community have been targeted for attack by a gunman who remains at large. While the motive for this horrific violence remains unclear, a presumption of antisemitism looms large. We pray for the full recovery of the victims and the swift apprehension of the perpetrators of these crimes. And we call upon our friends in law enforcement to redouble their efforts to protect the Jewish community.”

Agudath Israel of America said in a statement that they are “greatly concerned over two shootings on consecutive days victimizing Orthodox Jews leaving their synagogues following morning prayers. Our California office has been in touch with the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as Los Angeles Councilwoman Katy Young Yaroslovsky’s office, who are taking this situation very seriously. While we do not yet know who the shooter(s) are, if the cases are related, or what the motivations may have been, Agudath Israel feels that these incidents should be investigated as hate crimes until we know otherwise. In the meantime we ask all Los Angeles institutions to be especially vigilant in the days ahead. We pray for the complete recovery of the victims of these shootings.”

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, who heads YULA High School, told the Journal that YULA is currently under a “shelter in place” as a precautionary measure, meaning that students can’t leave campus but can otherwise walk around normally on campus.

This is a developing story.

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