Police search for gunman in North Hollywood synagogue shooting

| October 29, 2009

A gunman entered the grounds of a North Hollywood synagogue this morning and shot and wounded two men who were going to a prayer service in an attack LAPD detectives are investigating as a hate crime.

The unidentified gunman wearing a black hoodie 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 in his 40s who was parking his car to attend prayer service.

"Without any words," Moore said, the suspect shot the man in the leg. He then fired at a second man in his 40s who had also arrived for prayers. The second victim was also wounded in the leg. The gunman then fled from the garage. Witnesses called 911.

Moore said both victims were in good condition at local hospitals.

Detectives are "working with [the victims] to understand more information," Moore said. They do not believe the motive was robbery, according to LAPD sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition they not be named because the investigation is ongoing.

“Of course it was a hate crime,” said Shawn Yaghoubi, 18, of Encino, who was dropping off his younger brother at a nearby school when he heard about the shooting. “They [police] have to do something about it."

Los Angeles police arrested a man about an hour later near the synagogue, but sources said they do not believe he was the gunman. LAPD officials have alerted other synagogues around Los Angeles about the shooting, and police have stepped up patrols at Jewish religious institutions.

Adat Yeshurun is in the heart of the San Fernando Valley's Orthodox Jewish community and within walking distance of kosher markets and other synagogues. Many people move to the area so they could walk to temple.

The sources said detectives are trying to determine the motive, and whether the gunman acted alone or as part of a larger group. LAPD detectives were reviewing security videotapes from the temple in hopes of better understanding the chain of events.

They were also searching a nearby park to see if the suspect is hiding there.

Yehuda, 53, a man of Tunisian descent who declined to give his last name, has attended the Sephardic Jewish temple for the last 15 years. He arrived early this morning to begin his regular morning prayers.

About an hour later, as he prayed with some 15 others in the temple's quiet sanctuary, four gunshots broke the silence, he said.

He said he heard screams from the parking lot, then saw two men stumble into the temple.

Their blood spread over the floor as people rushed to stop the bleeding, Yehuda said, but no one inside saw the shooter.

"Maybe it was crazy person. Maybe he was drugged up. Maybe it was a Jew. We don't know," Yehuda said, nervously adjusting his yarmulke as he stood outside the taped-off scene with two friends.

Yehuda said the two men who were shot were latecomers who had just parked their cars.

The temple, which has a congregation of mostly Moroccan and other North African Jews, installed security cameras years ago to discourage attacks, Yehuda said.

"This is a good place," he said



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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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    [Updated at 12:38 p.m.: Several law enforcement sources also said investigators are looking at whether the shooting was related to a business or personal dispute. The sources said detectives believe one of the victims was the target, and that a second victim may have been shot because he witnessed the attack.]


    LA Times

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    Synagogue shooting victim recovering from surgery

    At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one of the men shot at the North Hollywood synagogue, Maor Ben-Nissan, 37, is recovering from surgery.

    His relatives and friends are gathered at the hospital, drinking coffee and hovering around the TV, watching live coverage from the synagogue.

    Ben-Nissan lives in North Hollywood with his wife, Anat, and 2-year-old son. He owns a tile store and is very devout, going to Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue every morning, friends said. He is an Israeli immigrant who came to the United States as a child.

    “I haven’t seen my husband yet,” said Anat, whose eyes were red.

    His brother-in-law, who did not want to give his name, said he arrived at the synagogue a few minutes before Maor and was inside when the shooting occurred. He heard four shots. “We panicked and ran,” the brother-in-law said.

    As he went out, he saw Maor hobbling up the stairs and saw the blood on his leg and on the stairs.

    “He called my name. I ran to him,” the brother-in-law said.

    He called 911. He also put a pillow under Ben-Nissan’s head and wrapped a sweater around his leg to try to stop the bleeding. “I was just trying to calm him down,” he said.

    “Hate crimes are alive. People have to be careful,” the brother-in-law said. “It was a miracle it was nothing worse.”


  • http://congregationalsecurityinc.com CSI

    [A girls’ school at the synagogue with 112 students canceled classes today. At least two rabbis from neighboring synagogues who were at the scene this morning said they were counseling their own congregants to stay calm.

    “The feeling is that we’ve got to keep our eyes open for each other,” said Rabbi Nachman Nabend, from Chabad of North Hollywood. “It makes me angry when anyone gets targeted.”

    Adat Ari El, the fourth largest conservative synagogue in L.A. with a 750-family congregation, is about two miles away from Adat Yeshurun. Joanne Klein, executive director at Adat Ari El, said there are more LAPD patrol cars in the area and her synagogue is ramping upt its own security by closing multiple entrances and adding additional security guards.

    “We’re watchful,” said Klein. “We’re taking extra precautions and we’re paying attention to what’s going on in the community. We’re still open for business.”]

    LA Times

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    Mayor: NoHo Synagogue Shooting Appears to be ‘Random Act’