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Synagogues in L.A. on alert after shooting that police are investigating as a hate crime [Updated]

October 29, 2009 |  8:56 am

Two worshipers at a North Hollywood synagogue were shot this this morning in an attack LAPD detectives are investigating as a hate crime. 

The shooting occurred at 6:20 a.m. at the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue, at 12405 Sylvan St.

LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore said the shootings occurred in the underground garage of the temple. A man coming to the temple for worship parked his car in the lot and was approached by suspect who Moore said was wearing a black hoodie.

"Without any words," Moore said, the suspect shot the man in the leg. Then the gunman fired on a second man who had arrived for prayers. That second victim was also wounded in the leg.

The gunman then fled from the garage. Witnesses called 911.

Moore described the victims as being in their 40s. He said both were in good condition.

Detectives are "working with [the victims] to understand more information," Moore said.

Detectives don't believe the motive was robbery, according to LAPD sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because the investigation is ongoing.

At about 7:40 a.m., Los Angeles police arrested a man near the synagogue but the sources say they don't 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.

[Updated at 9:25 a.m.: The synagogue where the shooting occurred 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 have moved to the area so they can 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.

[Updated at 9:03 a.m.: 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.]

--Richard Winton, Anna Gorman, Duke Helfand, Baxter Holmes and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: LAPD officers continue their investigation into the shooting at the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue this morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Earlier in L.A. Now: Shooting at North Hollywood synagogue investigated as hate crime; man detained [Updated]