BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) — Two Southern California men are charged with hate crimes after allegedly attacking five individuals and leaving behind more than $20,000 worth of property damage at the Cafe Istanbul restaurant in Beverly Hills.
23-year-old Harutyun Harry Chalikyan and 23-year-old William Stepanyan are accused of attacking the victims at the family-owned restaurant while shouting slurs, throwing chairs at them, and threatening to kill them.
Both Chalikyan and Stepanyan are charged with one count of conspiracy and five hate crimes.
According to the indictment, which was made public Tuesday, Stepanyan sent a text message on Nov. 4, 2020, saying that he planned to go “hunting” for Turkish people.
Later that day, the two, who are Armenian-American, met with other and others to protest what they viewed as Turkish aggression against Armenians, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say the group then drove to the family-owned Turkish restaurant, where the pair went inside and attacked the victims.
Four out of the five victims were of Turkish descent.
According to the indictment, at least one of the defendants threatened to kill the victims saying, “We came to kill you! We will kill you!”
Multiple victims were injured in the attack.
If convicted as charged, Stepanyan and Chalikyan each face up to 10 years in prison for the hate crime charges and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)