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Shooter of two Jewish men agrees to plead guilty to hate crimes

A former Riverside resident who fatally shot two Jewish men, putting the community on edge last year, has agreed to plead guilty to hate crimes and firearms offenses, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Jaime Tran, 29, will plead guilty to two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying and discharging a firearm during and in connection with a crime of violence, according to the US Department of Justice.

Under the plea agreement filed Tuesday, Tran would be sentenced to 35 to 40 years in prison.

“These horrific acts – motivated by poisonous anti-Semitic beliefs – shocked our community,” the U.S. Attorney said. Martin Estrada said in a press release. “Law enforcement will continue to work together to prevent and punish hate crimes. Our resolve remains strong, standing alongside our Jewish community and others to oppose acts of hatred. »

Tran’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tran’s plea agreement details a history of anti-Semitism that intensified in the years leading up to the shooting.

Tran left the dental school in 2018, after making hateful statements toward other students he considered Jewish, according to the agreement.

His anti-Semitic statements between August 2022 and December 2022 increasingly included violent remarks, according to the agreement. During that time, prosecutors say, Tran texted a former classmate to tell him that someone was going to kill him, that he should kill himself and that he should “burn in the bedroom.” an oven, you Jew.”

Tran also admitted to emailing about two dozen of his former classmates a flyer containing anti-Semitic propaganda, including the statement: “Every aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish.” »

Due to previous mental health issues, Tran was prohibited from purchasing firearms. He admitted to paying approximately $1,500 to a third party to buy him a .380 caliber pistol and an AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle.

LAPD officers on horseback in Pico-Robertson

LAPD officers patrol Pico Boulevard on horseback following the shooting of two Jewish men in Pico-Robertson in February 2023.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Times previously reported that the year before the shooting, Tran had been charged with carrying a loaded firearm.

The plea agreement also details that Tran searches for locations with a “kosher market,” planning to shoot someone in that area. On February 15, 2023, he drove to the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, where he spotted a Jewish man identified by prosecutors only by the initials RH, who was wearing a yarmulke.

Tran admitted that as RH opened the door of his own car after leaving church services, he shot the man point-blank in the back, intending to kill him.

The next morning, Tran returned to the same area and saw another victim, whom prosecutors identified by the initials GT. The man was leaving church services and was also wearing a yarmulke. Tran admitted to shooting GT as he crossed the street, intending to kill him.

Both men survived the attacks. Law enforcement arrested Tran on February 17 and he has been in custody ever since.

In a press release, Krysti Hawkins, acting assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said that “Tran’s hatred led him to plan the murder of two innocent victims simply because he believed that they practiced their Jewish faith.”

“I am relieved that the hard work of investigators and prosecutors has allowed Tran to admit to these heinous crimes, and I hope that members of the Jewish community will find some comfort in knowing that he will not be able to target their colleagues. » said Hawkins.

California Daily Newspapers

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