Two SoCal Men Charged in Hate Crimes Case

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A federal indictment made public today charges two Los Angeles-area men with conspiracy and hate crime offenses for allegedly attacking five victims at a family-owned Turkish restaurant while shouting anti-Turkish slurs, hurling chairs at the victims and threatening to kill them.

The indictment was unsealed following the arrest of Harutyun Harry Chalikyan, 23, of Tujunga, who is scheduled to be arraigned today in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The second defendant in the case -- William Stepanyan, 23, of Glendale -- is now in state custody and is expected to appear in federal court in the current case in the coming weeks.

Chalikyan and Stepanyan, both of whom are Armenian-American, are charged with one count of conspiracy and five hate crimes.

According to the indictment, Stepanyan sent a text message on Nov. 4, saying that he planned to go “hunting'' for Turkish people. Later that day, Stepanyan met with Chalikyan 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, prosecutors allege.

Stepanyan, Chalikyan and other Armenian-Americans then drove to the family-owned restaurant, where Stepanyan and Chalikyan stormed inside and attacked the victims, the indictment alleges. Stepanyan and Chalikyan, who were both wearing masks during the attack, flung chairs at the victims while shouting derogatory slurs about Turkish people, the indictment alleges. Four of the five victims were of Turkish descent.

The indictment further alleges that at least one of the defendants threatened to kill the victims, shouting: “We came to kill you! We will kill you!''

During the attack, multiple victims were injured, including one individual who lost feeling in both legs and collapsed multiple times due to the injury, the indictment states. After the victims escaped, Stepanyan and Chalikyan allegedly continued to destroy the restaurant, ultimately causing more than $20,000 in damage, forcing the operators to close temporarily and causing thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

If convicted, Stepanyan and Chalikyan each would face up to 10 years in prison for the hate crime charges and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge.

Photo: Getty Images

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