Ex-Riverside Man Agrees to Plead Guilty to Hate and Gun Crimes

For Shooting Two Jewish Men Leaving L.A. Synagogues Last Year

 

A former Riverside resident who last year shot and wounded two Jewish men as they left religious services in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles has agreed to plead guilty to hate crimes and firearms offenses, the Justice Department announced today.

Jaime Tran, 29, has agreed to plead guilty to all charges against him: two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Tran is expected to plead guilty to the felony charges before United States District Judge George H. Wu in the coming weeks.

Upon entering his guilty plea, Tran will face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison for each hate crime count, and a maximum of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for each firearm count.

Under the plea agreement, which prosecutors filed today, Tran would receive a prison sentence of between 35 years and 40 years.

"This defendant sought to murder two men simply because they were Jewish," said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. "Rather than allow these horrific crimes to divide us, however, our community came together and swiftly brought the perpetrator to justice. Hate and intolerance have no place in America. We will remain firm in our approach of using all the tools at our disposal to aggressively prosecute acts of hate."

"The defendant's hatred led him to plan the murder of two innocent victims simply because he believed they were practicing their Jewish faith," said Krysti Hawkins, the Acting Assistant Director of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "I'm relieved that the hard work by investigators and prosecutors led to Tran's admission to these abhorrent crimes, and hope that members of the Jewish community take some solace in knowing that he will not be in the position to target their fellow members."

"I'm thankful for the hard work our investigators and prosecutors have put into this case," said Los Angeles Police Chief Dominic Choi. "Hate crimes tear at the fabric of our communities and safety. The Los Angeles Police Department is stronger through our federal partnerships, better serving the people of Los Angeles."

According to his plea agreement, Tran developed and espoused antisemitic beliefs and made violent threats toward Jewish people. In 2018, Tran left dental school after making hate-filled statements about other students whom he perceived to be Jewish.

From August 2022 to December 2022, Tran's antisemitic statements escalated and included increasingly violent language, including against a former classmate whom he repeatedly called and texted with messages such as "I want you dead, Jew," "Someone is going to kill you, Jew," and "Burn in an oven chamber."

In November 2022, Tran emailed two dozen former classmates a flyer containing antisemitic propaganda, including the statement, "EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF THE COVID AGENDA IS JEWISH." The following month, Tran emailed his former classmates excerpts from a website describing Jewish persons as "primitive" and having "thick skulls."

As a result of previous mental health holds, as of 2023, Tran was prohibited from purchasing firearms. In January 2023 in Phoenix, Tran asked a third party to buy two firearms for him. Tran selected the firearms he wanted and paid approximately $1,500 in cash to the third party, who then purchased them.

On the morning of February 15, 2023, Tran used the internet to research locations with a "kosher market," and planned to shoot someone near a kosher market because he believed there would be Jewish people in the area. Tran drove to Pico-Robertson and shot a Jewish victim wearing a yarmulke as he was leaving religious services at a synagogue. Tran, believing the victim was Jewish, shot him at close range in the back, intending to kill him. Tran then fled the scene in his car.

The next morning, February 16, 2023, Tran returned to the Pico-Robertson area, intending to shoot another Jewish person. Tran shot a second Jewish victim, also wearing a yarmulke and leaving a synagogue after attending religious services. Tran shot the victim at close range, intending to kill him, as the victim crossed the street. Tran again fled the scene.

Both victims survived the attacks. Law enforcement arrested Tran on February 17 and he has remained in custody since then.The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are investigating this matter. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the Cathedral City Police Department, and the Fountain Valley Police Department provided substantial assistance.

Assistant United States Attorneys Kathrynne N. Seiden of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Frances S. Lewis of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section are prosecuting this case.

 

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