(RNS) Synagogues in Los Angeles were on high alert Thursday (Oct. 29) after a gunman shot two men heading to morning prayers in the city’s North Hollywood neighborhood.
Two men were in the underground parking lot of Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue when they were shot by a man in a black, hooded sweatshirt, according to police. Both men were shot in the leg and the injuries have been described as not life-threatening.
The shooting occurred around 6:30 a.m. PST, before morning prayers.
Yehuda Oz, a temple member, told the Los Angeles Times he and about 15 other people were praying inside the temple when they heard four gunshots, followed by screams from the parking lot. The two wounded men then entered the synagogue.
Los Angeles Police Department officials have told American Jewish leaders that a man is in custody, but they are not confident he is the shooter. Synagogues and other Jewish institutions in Los Angeles have been told to heighten their security procedures until more information is gathered.
“The LAPD. is potentially looking at this as a hate crime versus a crime of opportunity,” said Paul Goldenberg, the director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish organizations and facilities on security threats.
Goldenberg said there was no chatter or communication that would have placed Jewish institutions on alert before Thursday’s incident, but said attacks targeting Jews in the United States have risen in the last six months. A gunman entered the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June, killing a security guard. Four men tried to plant bombs in two Bronx synagogues in May, but were under government surveillance and the plan was foiled.
By Matthew E. Berger
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