Men from Glendale and Tujunga to plead guilty to hate crime charges in Beverly Hills attack on Turkish restaurant – Daily News
LOS ANGELES – Guilty pleas are due Monday from two Los Angeles County men accused of attacking diners at a family-run Turkish restaurant while shouting anti-Turkish slurs, throwing chairs at victims and threatening them to kill them.
William Stepanyan and Harutyun Chalikyan both agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and hate crime. After filing their pleas for both offenses, the defendants will each face up to 15 years in federal prison, according to the US Department of Justice.
Turkey and Armenia have a long history of conflict, part of which stems from Turkey’s support for 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 around the world, including in the United States. Numerous demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, opposing individuals of Armenian and Turkish origin, have taken place in Los Angeles County.
According to his plea deal, on November 4 last year, 23-year-old Stepanyan, who is Armenian-American and lives in Glendale, sent a text message saying he was planning to go “hunt” the Turks. Later that day, Stepanyan met with Chalikyan, 24, of Tujunga, and other Armenian-Americans to protest what they saw as a Turkish aggression against the Armenians, to express their contempt for Turkey and to show their support. to Armenia.
Stepanyan, Chalikyan and various unindicted accomplices went to the Beverly Hills restaurant, where the defendants barged inside. Stepanyan and Chalikyan, who both wore masks during the attack, threw chairs at the victims while shouting derogatory slurs at the Turks, according to documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
Four of the five victims were of Turkish origin. At least one of the defendants threatened to kill the victims, shouting: “We have come to kill you! We will kill you! according to the Ministry of Justice.
During the attack, several victims were injured, including one person who lost sensation in his legs and collapsed several times due to the injury. Additionally, during the attack, Stepanyan ripped off the restaurant’s computer terminals and stole a victim’s iPhone, according to the DOJ.
The restaurant reported at least $ 20,000 in damage and had to shut down temporarily, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.