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FBI was tracking suspect accused of shooting two Jewish men in West LA, says LAPD

LAPD says FBI was tracking suspect in West LA hate crime shootings
LAPD says FBI was tracking suspect in West LA hate crime shootings 03:02

Pico-Robertson neighbors are stunned after hearing that the suspect in last month's shooting of two Jewish men had been on the FBI's radar for months. 

"Somebody needs to give an answer for what's happened," said Pico-Robertson homeowner Mosha Amal. "It just makes me upset because it's unsafe for everyone."

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore revealed that the FBI had been tracking 28-year-old Jaime Tran when he allegedly shot two Jewish men in West Los Angeles. Tran was arrested in Cathedral City with a handgun and rifle, according to police. Moore said the FBI knew Tran had mental issues and that he'd made antisemitic threats to UCLA dental school classmates in the summer of 2022. 

"How he came into the possession of that rifle as well as the handgun, given his mental health condition, is the subject of our continued investigation," said Moore. 

Tran was also facing a firearms charge at the time of the West LA shootings. LA County District Attorney George Gascón said his office was unaware that Tran was in the FBI's threat tracking system. 

"We were not advised of any threats made by Mr. Tran," Tiffiny Blacknell with the District Attorney's office said in a statement to KCAL News. "If we had been advised we could have made the court aware of those allegations and the court could have taken appropriate action. This includes addressing issues related to his custody status."

Professor Brian Levin, who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, called this poor communication between law enforcement a "failure."

"Bottom line is this was a failure not only of system but also of discretion," said Levin, who is also a former New York Police Department officer. "We should all try to make sure that when someone fits the textbook example of a dangerous, violent antisemite that we don't say 'Hey, which firearms would you like.'"

Jewish leaders like Richard Hirschhaut are also pressing for answers and action.

"It's about always looking carefully to see how the job can be done better," said Hirschhaut, who is the director of the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles. "Because, invariably, given the hateful and incendiary times in which we are living, there may very well be other such incidents in the future."

Tran has been charged with federal hate crimes and is being held without bail. 

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