Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shooting at LA Shul Injures Two

Shortly before dawn this morning a lone gunmen went to a Los Angeles synagogue and shot two parishioners as they were making their way in to morning prayers.

The LA Times reports that the shooter is still at large and there is no motive for the shooting at the moment.
A 17-year-old who was detained for questioning shortly after the shooting was released this afternoon, and police backed away from initial claims that the attack was motivated by religious hate.

Although police initially said the suspect was a black man wearing a black hoodie, law enforcement sources later said the investigation was wide open and that police were investigating all possibilities, including whether the gunman specifically targeted either of the victims.

One source said detectives were not certain of the suspect's race.

Several law enforcement sources also said investigators were looking at whether the shootings were related to a business or personal dispute. The sources said detectives believe one of the victims was the target, and that the second victim may have been shot because he witnessed the attack.

Speaking to reporters outside the taped-off synagogue, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the incident "a senseless act of violence." But the mayor was careful to temper worries that the shooting was a hate crime.

"None of us should presume or speculate more about this other than it was a random act of violence," he said.

The unidentified gunman walked into the underground parking garage of Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at 12405 Sylvan St. shortly before 6:20 a.m., said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. He approached a man who was parking his car to attend prayer service.
Police do not think that robbery was a motive in the attacks that injured Mori Ben-Nissan, 38, and Allen Lasry, 53, but beefed up security at other Jewish facilities in the area possibly believing that there was a religious motivation.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement condemning the shooting.
“We condemn this attack near the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox synagogue in the strongest possible terms and offer our prayers for the victims and their families,” CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in a statement.

“No worshiper -- whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, or other -- should be made to feel unsafe or intimidated at a house of worship. We also appreciate the LAPD’s investigation and enhanced security in response to the attack.”

The two victims, each of whom was shot in the leg, were in good condition at local hospitals, according to Baltimore Sun sister The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
The shooter is still at large.

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