Ex-dental student agrees to cop to shooting 2 in hate crime

Jail Hands

A former dental school student in California who reportedly shot and injured two Jewish men as they were leaving services at synagogues has agreed on May 14 to plead guilty, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jaime Tran, 29, who attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry, pleaded guilty to two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Tran is expected to plead guilty to the felonies in the coming weeks, according to a press release dated May 10 from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Tran will receive a prison sentence of between 35 and 40 years.

Tran reportedly espoused antisemitic beliefs and made violent threats toward people who are Jewish, and, in 2018, he left UCLA after allegedly making hate-filled statements about other students whom he thought were Jewish, according to the release.

Between August and December 2022, Tran's antisemitic rants escalated and became increasingly  violent. For instance, he purportedly repeatedly called and texted one former UCLA dental classmate with these messages: “I want you dead, Jew," "Someone is going to kill you, Jew,” and "Burn in an oven chamber," according to the release.

In November 2022, Tran emailed a flyer containing antisemitic propaganda, including the statement "EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF THE COVID AGENDA IS JEWISH," to two dozen former classmates. In December 2022, Tran emailed his ex-classmates excerpts from a website in which Jewish people were described as "primitive" and having "thick skulls."

Due to previous mental health holds, as of 2023, Tran was prohibited from legally purchasing firearms. While in Phoenix in January 2023, he reportedly asked a third party to buy two firearms for him. Tran selected the firearms and paid approximately $1,500 to the third party, who then purchased them, according to the release.

On February 15, 2023, Tran purportedly searched online for kosher markets. He allegedly planned to shoot someone near a kosher market because he believed a person shopping in that area would be Jewish.

Later, Tran drove to Pico-Robertson, a densely urban area in Los Angeles, and shot a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke as he left religious services at a synagogue. Believing the victim was Jewish, Tran reportedly shot him at close range in the back, intending to kill him. After the shooting, he reportedly fled the scene in his car, according to the release.

On February 16, 2023, Tran purportedly returned to the same area with the intention of killing another Jewish person. Tran shot a second Jewish man wearing a yarmulke as he left a synagogue. Again, Tran allegedly shot the man at close range in an attempt to kill him, according to the release.

Both victims survived, and Tran was arrested on February 17, 2023. Tran has been in jail since his arrest.

"This defendant sought to murder two men simply because they were Jewish," U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in the release.  “Rather than allow these horrific crimes to divide us, however, our community came together and swiftly brought the perpetrator to justice. Hate and intolerance have no place in America."

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