In apparently unrelated incidents, two Jewish community members were shot after leaving prayer services on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Feb. 15 and 16, respectively.
Both suspects in the two shooting were still at-large as of press time.
Neither victim suffered life-threatening injuries.
Occurring within a span of fewer than 24 hours and less than a half-mile from each other, the incidents have rattled members of the Jewish community, Beverly Hills city leadership and residents of the Pico-Robertson area, a Beverly Hills-adjacent neighborhood that’s home to the city’s largest population of religious Jews. Synagogues both large and small populate it, with many people walking to their neighborhood places of worship for prayer services every morning.
On Feb. 15, around 10 a.m., near the intersection of S. Shenandoah Street and Cashio Avenue, a member of the Jewish community was shot by a suspect that’s being described as “a middle-aged Asian male with possible beard or goatee,” according to nonprofit Jewish security service Magen Am.
On Feb. 16, around 9 a.m., an individual “was shot in the arm leaving a Jewish synagogue at the intersection of Bedford and Pickford,” according to Magen Am.
“These two shooting incidents are certainly concerning but they are not believed to be related,” Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West Los Angeles Commanding Officer Capt. Craig Heredia said.
The suspect in the Feb. 15 shooting was driving a vehicle that’s being described as a “dark gray Honda or Toyota, 1995-2000, with stacked cardboard in the interior.”
The suspect in the Feb. 16 shooting was a “white male [with a] black mask, black glasses, black sweater [and] armed.” As of press time, LAPD officers were looking for information from witnesses, video surveillance, and any information that would help identify Thursday’s suspect.
Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse immediately denounced the incidents on social media. She also conveyed her strong feelings to the Courier.
“It definitely rattled me to see that two days in a row, two Jewish people, as they were leaving their synagogues, were shot. It hasn’t been confirmed in any way if there was a targeted hate crime …. but regardless, I just want for everyone to feel safe. I want
those who are Jewish and those who practice other faiths to know that they can go to their houses of worship and walk the streets to their cars and feel safe.”
She added, “Our Beverly Hills Police Department is adding extra patrols around houses of worship so people do feel safe as they are walking or driving to houses of worship. We want everyone to feel safe. We always want people in our community to feel secure, and BHPD is being proactive.”
The Feb. 15 victim was reportedly walking to his car when the gunman, driving a car, approached and fired two shots, online Jewish newspaper the Forward reported. A Magen Am community team member recruit heard the gunshots and made first contact with the LAPD. The victim, a man, was soon “transported to a hospital non-life threatening wounds,” Magen Am said.
According to published reports, the gunman shot the victim twice. One bullet grazed the victim, while the other, fortunately, missed.
Fewer details were immediately available regarding the Feb. 16 incident. The victim was in stable condition, according to the LAPD.
The Feb. 15 incident does not appear to be motivated by antisemitism, though the victim was reportedly wearing a yarmulke at the time.
“There was no indication of yesterday’s shooting being motivated by hate,” the LAPD said.
“Magen Am has been informed by LAPD that this incident does not appear to be related to any antisemitism,” Magen Am said. “There is no specific threat to the community at this time. Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident.”
The motive for the Feb. 16 incident was unknown as of press time.
“Detectives are investigating this morning’s incident and there are more questions than answers at this point,” LAPD’s Heredia said on Thursday. “We do not know the motivation or reason for today’s shooting, but we are working diligently to determine if this is a hate crime. The investigation is ongoing and we will provide additional information to the community once more details are known.”
Magen Am President Rabbi Yossi Eilfort reiterated his organization’s mission of protecting members of the Jewish community.
“It is sickening that in Los Angeles today, two Jews have been shot in the street in two days, as they were leaving prayers. Regardless of the motivation of the shootings, Jews deserve to be secure, living and serving G-d in peace,” Eilfort said. “Magen Am is asking our city to take a strong stand on behalf of its Jewish community. LAPD is currently saying there is no specific information indicating this was driven solely by antisemitism. We await detectives’ updates.”
The shootings came on the heels of increased activity in the Beverly Hills area that prompted the response of BHPD. On Feb. 10, multiple police units were dispatched to the 1500 block of Carla Ridge in Trousdale Estates, in response to a possible residential burglary. The suspect fled before the police’s arrival, according to a BHPD alert. As of press time, BHPD had not arrested anyone in connection with the incident.
On Feb. 15, BHPD officers conducted a search, near Sunset Boulevard and Ladera Drive, for suspects of a stolen vehicle in connection with a Los Angeles city burglary. They were assisted by K9 units. By that evening, the search had ended, with two suspects in custody for multiple felony charges, according to BHPD.