hate crime charges

LA Men Face Sentencing for Anti-Turkish Restaurant Attack

William Stepanyan and Harutyun Chalikyan pleaded guilty last year to federal conspiracy and hate crime charges for attacking diners at a family-owned Turkish restaurant in 2020.

An undated image of the "Great Seal of the State of California" at a San Diego court.
NBC 7

Two Los Angeles men face sentencing Monday for attacking diners at a family-owned Turkish restaurant while shouting anti-Turkish slurs, hurling chairs at the victims and threatening to kill them.

William Stepanyan and Harutyun Chalikyan both pleaded guilty last year to federal conspiracy and hate crime charges. The two felony offenses together carry a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Turkey and Armenia have a long history of conflict, part of which has stemmed from Turkey's support of Azerbaijan in its border conflict with Armenia. When a new war broke out between Armenian and Azeri military forces in September 2020, tensions in Turkish and Armenian communities escalated worldwide, including in the United States. Numerous protests and counter protests, pitting individuals of Armenian and Turkish descent against one another, took place in Los Angeles County.

On Nov. 4, 2020, Stepanyan, 24, who is Armenian-American and lives in Glendale, sent a text message saying that he planned to go "hunting'' for Turks. Later that day, Stepanyan met with Chalikyan, 25, of Tujunga, and other Armenian-Americans to protest what they considered to be Turkish aggression against Armenians, express their contempt for Turkey and show their support for Armenia.

Stepanyan, Chalikyan and various unindicted accomplices drove to the restaurant in Beverly Hills, where the defendants stormed inside. Stepanyan and Chalikyan, who were both wearing masks during the attack, flung chairs at the victims while shouting derogatory slurs about Turkish people.

Four of the five victims were of Turkish descent. At least one of the defendants threatened to kill the victims, shouting: "We came to kill you! We will kill you!'' according to the DOJ.

During the attack, multiple victims were injured, including one individual who lost feeling in their legs and collapsed multiple times due to the injury. Also, during the attack, Stepanyan ripped out the restaurant's computer terminals and stole a victim's iPhone.

Local

Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

$50,000 Reward Offered to Help Solve Execution Killing of Father

Couple Arrested in Hancock Park Follow-Home Armed Robbery

The restaurant reported at least $20,000 in damage and had to close temporarily.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us