Police: L.A. Synagogue Shooting Likely Not a Hate Crime

By Tom Tugend (JTA)

Published October 30, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

L.A. police say there is no evidence of a hate crime or terrorism in the shooting Thursday of two Orthodox Jews in the parking lot of a Los Angeles-area synagogue.

The shooting occurred at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Synagogue in North Hollywood, Calif., when a man described as dark-skinned and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt approached a congregant in the synagogue’s underground garage around 6:20 a.m.

Apparently without exchanging words, the gunman attempted to shoot the congregant before his gun jammed. As another congregant approached, the suspect fired shots at both of them, hitting Maor Ben-Nissan, 53, and Allen Lasry in the legs. Both victims were rushed to a hospital, where they underwent surgery and were reported in good condition.

Adat Yeshurun is located in an area with a large Orthodox population and numerous kosher stores, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported.

Yehuda Oz, 57, was inside the synagogue with about 20 other congregants when he heard four shots. Then one of the victims ran into the synagogue, bleeding and screaming for help, Oz said.

The shooter fled on foot. Police arrested a 17-year old African American as a possible suspect but later released him. Detectives are currently studying videos taken by the synagogue’s security cameras.

Police initially listed the shooting as a hate crime, but sources told the Los Angeles Times that they are looking into the possiblity that it was related to a business or personal dispute. They said one of the victims may have been the target and the other shot because he witnessed the attack.

Adat Yeshurun has a widely diverse congregation, with some 150 families from Cuba, Argentina, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, Algiers, Tunisia, Libya and Israel.

Among the first responders to the crime were a Hatzolah emergency aid team.

John Fishel, president of the L.A. Jewish Federation, said, “Regrettably, these attacks seem to go in cycles and peak near the time of Jewish holidays. There’s a fine line between being alert and prepared, but not giving in to excessive anxiety or panic.”

The Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League joined police in urging all synagogues and Jewish schools to take extra precautions.

Adding to the concern of the Jewish community, a police bomb squad investigated a suspicious-looking shopping bag at the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple and cordoned off the building on Thursday. Police gave an all-clear after a three-hour search.

Security guards making the rounds early Thursday morning had reported an unattended canvas shopping bag inside the gates, which had not been there the night before.

Howard Kaplan, the temple’s executive director, said, “In light of the North Hollywood shooting this morning, we decided to err on the side of caution.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.