Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shootings at Sephardic Synagogue in LA

A shooting in the very early morning at a parking garage attached to a Sephardic Jewish synagogue has police working a number of angles.

Here are the bare facts From the LA Deputy Chief:

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…He approached a man who was parking his car to attend prayer service.

“Without any words,” Moore said, the suspect shot the man in the leg. He then shot a second man who had also arrived for prayers. The second victim also was wounded in the leg. The gunman then fled from the garage, and witnesses called 911.

The victims, Maor Ben-Nissan, 37, and Allen Lasry, whose age was unavailable but thought to be in his 40s, were in good condition at hospitals.

Unless someone hands the police information, this one is going to be hard to track down. What is obvious is that the gunman didn’t shoot to kill. If there was any doubt of that, aiming at the legs of the second man, much as he had the first victim, would seem to make it clear that his intention was to wound.

You can’t help but notice the form of attack in this instance:
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There was a gunshot fired into each leg. Isn’t this standard operating procedure for organized crime? But attacking the person at his synagogue? That part doesn’t make sense. And how would the shooter have known his victim would be late and likely to be alone? Why shoot the bystander unless it was to intimidate him?

The out-of-nowhere attack has everyone nervous:

Adat Yeshurun [the synagogue] 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 can walk to temple.

Yehuda Oz, 53, a man of Tunisian descent, has attended the Sephardic Jewish temple for 15 years and 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 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, Oz 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,” Oz said, nervously adjusting his yarmulke as he stood outside the taped-off scene with two friends.

Maybe…maybe…the list of ‘reasons’ that go through one’s head lead to circles of confusion and fear.

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

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 of Chabad of North Hollywood. “It makes me angry when anyone gets targeted.”

At Adat Ari El, a synagogue about two miles away, executive director Joan Klein was increasing security by closing multiple entrances and adding more guards.

My granddaughter attended an excellent preschool at the Jewish Community Center near her home. It never occurred to me that she was in any danger. However, when you look at the long list Phyllis Chesler supplies of synagogue attacks, it makes you realize that all of them are vulnerable at some level. They are certainly far more vulnerable than your average Methodist church.

I liked that synagogue; they obviously loved the children and the affection was returned. Besides, my granddaughter learned to say the Hebrew version of her grace before meals. Hebrew, like Latin, seems conducive to prayer.


Anonymous said...

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

Yup. Keep your eyes open and your hands steady.

Dymphna said...

Even you, DP111, have to admit that the circumstances in this one are downright strange.

It would creep me out if I were a member of a synagogue in the area, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall while the police investigate.

MissC said...

There are rabbis in New York who are armed, but this did not take place in the synogogue itself.

It begs the questions of why the garage, why wound, and why those two men? Was it being cased? Are there security cameras in the garage?