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Two Orthodox Jews were shot with a pellet gun Thursday night at Alta Vista Boulevard and Waring Avenue in the Melrose area in an incident that Los Angeles police have labeled a hate crime. No one had been apprehended as of Friday afternoon.
The incident occurred at about 10 p.m., when a black Lexus carrying two African-American men slowed as it approached two yeshiva students, police said. The passenger allegedly made a few anti-Semitic remarks, and then the driver fired several shots from a pellet gun, LAPD Officer April Harding said.
One of the students was hit in the neck, the other on the jacket, but neither was injured. City Councilman Jack Weiss and LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger were set to discuss the incident at a 4:30 press conference Friday at the corner of Melrose and La Brea avenues.
"It is shocking that anyone would open fire in a neighborhood like this. The fact that it appears that the shooter was motivated by hatred only makes it worse," Weiss said in a phone interview Friday. "Every time there is an act of intimidation directed at Jews, the proper response for us is public defiance. We will not be intimidated."
Weiss, who is Jewish and represents a heavily Jewish district stretching from Fairfax to Cheviot Hills to Sherman Oaks, voiced the same sentiment in May after his district office was vandalized with three swastikas and an unintelligible mini-manifesto.
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations most recent hate-crime report found that Jews are the target in 71 percent of religious-based incidents. The Anti-Defamation League's regional director, Amanda Susskind, issued this statement:
"Crimes such as this are not just targeted at individuals in the Jewish community, they are targeted at our entire community," Susskind said. "Perpetrators of hate crimes send a message to their victims -- and everyone else who shares the victim's characteristics -- that we are not welcome or safe."
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer