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Former UCLA dentistry student pleads guilty to charges of shooting Jewish victims

By Sharla Steinman

May 14, 2024 4:01 p.m.

Former UCLA School of Dentistry student Jaime Tran agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to all charges related to him shooting two Jewish men in February 2023 as they left religious services. 

Tran, who was last enrolled at UCLA in 2018, pled 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, according to a Tuesday press release from the United States Department of Justice. 

Tran is expected to plead guilty to those felony charges in front of U.S. District Judge George H. Wu in the next few weeks, according to the press release. 

He will face a statutory maximum life sentence in federal prison for each hate crime count and a maximum life sentence and mandatory minimum of 10 years for each firearm count, according to the press release. Under the plea agreement prosecutors filed Tuesday, Tran would receive a prison sentence between 35 and 40 years, according to the press release. 

On Feb. 15, 2023, Tran drove to the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles – a largely Jewish community – and shot a Jewish victim wearing a yarmulke as he was leaving a synagogue. The next morning, Tran returned to the same area and shot a second Jewish victim who was also wearing a yarmulke and leaving a synagogue. Tran fled both scenes. Both victims survived the attack and law enforcement arrested Tran on Feb. 17. He has remained in custody since, according to the press release. 

According to his plea agreement, Tran espoused antisemitic beliefs and made violent threats toward Jewish people. Tran left dental school after making hateful statements about other students he thought were Jewish, according to the press release.

A UCLA spokesperson did not respond in time to a request for comment. 

Tran was prohibited from purchasing firearms in 2023 due to previous mental health issues. In January 2023, Tran asked a third party to buy him two firearms in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the press release. 

“This defendant sought to murder two men simply because they were Jewish,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada in the press 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. We will remain firm in our approach of using all the tools at our disposal to aggressively prosecute acts of hate.” 

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Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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