Detectives from the North Hollywood branch of the Los Angeles Police Department have spent the day investigating a shooting that wounded two this morning at a synagogue in Valley Village. Police and city officials have also worked to keep the public from rushing to the wrong conclusions about the shooting.
The police know that at about 6 a.m., a lone gunman shot at two men in the parking structure of the the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox synagogue. But LAPD officials said the gunman's motive eluded detectives.
"We certainly recognize the location and we're sensitive to that," said Deputy Chief Michel Moore. "But we don’t know that this is a hate crime at all at this point."
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that until police knew more, it would be irresponsible to assume anything about the gunman’s motivation.
Police described the suspect as a black male in his late teens or early twenties wearing a hooded sweatshirt. They detained someone loosely fitting that description 45 minutes after the shooting. They questioned him for a few hours, then released him.
Matthew Friedman, who runs the Valley chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, lives near the synagogue. He said the visceral reaction to a shooting in a synagogue or house of worship is to assume that it might be a hate crime, but the public should be careful.
"We don’t want to spread misinformation," Friedman said. "It may not be a hate crime, it might just be a disturbed individual. We really don’t know the motivation yet."
Still, he said, an incident like this one has a chilling effect on the Jewish community.