SoCal men who attacked Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills face federal prison terms

Two Los Angeles County men were sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to assaulting five people at a family-owned Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills in 2020.

The men, William Stepanyan, 23, of Glendale, and Harutyun Harry Chalikyan, 24, of Tujunga, pleaded guilty in October to throwing chairs, shouting ethnic slurs and threatening to kill people at the restaurant on November 4 2020.

The attack came as “long-simmering tensions in Turkish and Armenian communities escalated” during the war between Armenia and Turkey-backed Azerbaijan, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. Press release.

“Earlier that day, Stepanyan texted that he was planning to go ‘hunting [T]urks.’ … Arriving at the restaurant, Stepanyan and Chalikyan burst inside, threw hardwood chairs at the victims, smashed glassware, destroyed a plexiglass barrier and knocked over tables. One of the defendants asked the victims: “Are you Turkish? and shouted, “We have come to kill you!” We will kill you! the statement said.

Given Chalikyan and Stepanyan’s motives, they pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge, as well as one count of conspiracy, the DOJ said. Stepanyan was sentenced to five years in prison, while Shalikyan was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

They will also pay $21,200 in restitution for the attack, which injured three people, including one who lost feeling in her legs and collapsed multiple times as a result of the injury.

“Additionally, during the attack, Stepanyan ripped out the restaurant’s computer terminals and stole a victim’s iPhone,” totaling at least $20,000 in damages, the statement said.

“These defendants were motivated by hate and their actions were deplorable,” U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in the statement. “The physical injuries and emotional trauma of the victims cannot be underestimated. We hope that the sentences handed down today will help to justify these wrongs.

“The victims in this case were brutally attacked by the defendants who trampled on their civil rights and likely caused lasting psychological pain for nothing more than the perception of where they were born,” added Kristi Johnson, director assistant in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. Field Office, in the release. “The FBI is committed to investigating civil rights violations and holding accountable those who commit acts of hate-motivated violence.”

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