2 Jewish men were shot leaving their synagogues in LA. A suspect is in custody
Los Angeles authorities have arrested a man suspected of shooting two Jewish men as they walked home from their synagogues this week in separate, nonfatal incidents that are being investigated as hate crimes.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced late Thursday that the unnamed suspect had been taken into custody "without incident" in neighboring Riverside County after an "exhaustive search."
Police said detectives had also recovered "several items of evidence," including a rifle and handgun, and that their investigation alongside state and federal authorities is ongoing.
"There's much more to this incident that we will share at the appropriate time," tweeted LAPD Chief Michael Moore.
The shootings happened several blocks apart in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, which is home to a large Jewish community and known for its many synagogues, Jewish schools, kosher restaurants and the Holocaust-focused Museum of Tolerance.
The victims — who have not been publicly identified either — were shot as they were leaving houses of worship, according to the Southern California chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The organization Agudath Israel of America described them as Orthodox Jews.
Both were taken to local hospitals and are in stable condition, a police spokesperson told CNN.
The first man was shot in the arm by a drive-by shooter, according to CBS Los Angeles. The second is a member of Beit El synagogue, which told CNN that he had suffered minor injuries after being shot "three times at point-blank range" while he walked to his car, wearing a yarmulke, after morning services.
Police say there will be an increased law enforcement presence and patrols around Jewish places of worship their surrounding neighborhoods this weekend, "in an abundance of caution."
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass acknowledged in a statement that this week's shootings have set communities further on edge, at a time when antisemitic incidents already are reaching new heights.
"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," she wrote. "Those who engage in either will be caught and held fully accountable."
A community on edge looks for answers and accountability
Local faith and political leaders say they're relieved that the suspect is in custody, and are hoping to get the full picture of what happened and see him held accountable.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said it had learned that the suspect "has a history of animus towards the Jewish community."
"As such, we are heartened to have also learned that the U.S. Attorney will take the case and file federal charges on civil rights violations," it added.
Even with the suspect in custody, local officials acknowledge that rising antisemitism remains a threat to their community.
Los Angeles saw a wave of incidents last fall, including antisemitic leafleting and a demonstration in which protesters gave Nazi salutes under a "Kanye is right" banner on a freeway overpass.
The ADL said in October that the number of hate incidents in the city was on track to surpass the previous year's record high.
These latest shootings are concerning regardless of whether they were explicitly motivated by hate, as LA City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky tweeted:
"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."
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