Downing made his comments earlier this week in an interview with the Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv, where he was taking part in a Safe City Solutions Conference addressing urban crime and terrorism.
Downing, who heads the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau, was back in Los Angeles on Wednesday, when he gave the Los Angeles Times an interview qualifying his assertions about the synagogue shootings.
"It is something we are looking at, but we have made no definitive conclusions," Downing told The Times. No one has absolutely decided the shootings were related to organized crime, he said.
The shootings occurred around 6:20 a.m. Oct. 29 in a parking garage under the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Congregation at 12405 Sylvan St., police said.
The two victims had just arrived in separate vehicles for a morning prayer service and were shot in the legs after they got out, said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. He said the shooter did not speak to the victims before opening fire.
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"Investigators believe that without warning, the gunman tried to shoot the man, and his weapon malfunctioned," LAPD spokesman Richard French said.
"As he tried to get the weapon to work, a second victim heard and saw what was happening and approached the gunman," French said, and "at that point, the suspect shot both of the victims."
The gunman then fled on foot. No arrests have been made.
Law enforcement sources told The Times that the second man is believed to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Authorities initially feared the shootings were terrorism-related or a hate crime but ruled out those possibilities within hours of the shootings.
"I was out on that scene," Downing told the Jerusalem Post. "The two victims had been kneecapped. That's not indicative of terrorism. It resembled a targeted, surgical strike."
He said the victims "were targeted as part of a stern warning linked to a criminal organization."