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NoHo shooting: business dispute suspected

October 29, 2009 12:56:51 AM PDT
Two men were shot in the legs at a North Hollywood synagogue Thursday by a gunman who remained at large Thursday night.Authorities responded to a shooting at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Congregation synagogue at 12405 Sylvan Street in North Hollywood at 6:18 a.m. Two men, 38-year-old Maor Ben-Nissan and 53-year-old Allan Lasry, were shot in the legs in the underground parking garage of the synagogue, just before a morning prayer service.

Police released further information regarding the motive of the shooting Thursday evening. Police think that the shooter and one of the victims knew each other, and may have been involved in a business dispute.

Bullet holes in the parking garage suggest the shooter was intentionally aiming low, perhaps to intimidate the first victim. Police think the second victim was a passerby caught by a stray bullet.

LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore said the first victim had just gotten out of his car when the suspect tried to shoot him. The suspect's weapon malfunctioned, and as he tried to get the weapon to work, the second victim approached.

The suspect shot both men and fled on foot before police arrived.

Both men were taken to local hospitals and were reported in stable condition.

More than an hour after the shooting, a 17-year-old who matched a rough description of the suspect was taken into custody. After questioning the teen, police released him.

Police are reviewing surveillance tape from the parking garage, but said the actual shooting is not seen on the tape. The suspect is visible on the footage, but the grainy and low-quality images are hard to make out.

Detectives said no words were exchanged at the time of the shooting. The FBI joined the investigation to determine if the shooting was considered a hate crime.

"Until they have concluded their investigation, none of us, none of us should presume or speculate more about this crime other than it was a random act of violence," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

In the meantime all Jewish schools and synagogues were placed on high alert.

Officials said Adat Yeshurun is an Orthodox synagogue of Moroccan descent, and a hub for the Jewish community.

The shooting has left the synagogue's members very confused and very worried.

"It's amazing and it's scary at the same time, but we have to deal with it because we live in the real world. There are people out here that wake up in the morning and they just decide to do something for no good reason, and we have to protect ourselves and pray that it doesn't happen every day," said Rabbi Yossi Malka of Chabad of the Valley.

Eyewitness News Reporters Carlos Granda and Leslie Miller contributed to this report.


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