Two men were indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and hate crime charges for allegedly attacking people inside a Beverly Hills restaurant last year, officials announced Tuesday.
Harutyun Harry Chalikyan, 23, of Tujunga, and William Stepanyan, 23, of Glendale, were named in an indictment unsealed Tuesday, charging them each with one count of conspiracy and five hate crimes, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Chalikyan, who was arrested Tuesday, pleaded not guilty. Stepanyan is in state custody and is expected to appear in federal court in the coming weeks.
According to the indictment, Stepanyan sent a text message on Nov. 4, saying he planned to go “hunting for [T]urks.”
Later the same day, he and Chalikyan attended a protest held by Los Angeles’ Armenian American community to decry bloodshed overseas in Nagorno-Karabakh, where a war was waging after Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, launched a military attack in September.
The two men — and others who were not named in the indictment — then drove to Café Istanbul, a Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills, and allegedly attacked the people inside. The Beverly Hills Police Department had said at the time that six to eight people carried out the attack.
Stepanyan and Chalikyan, who were both wearing masks, are accused of hurling chairs while shouting derogatory slurs about Turkish people, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that at least one of the men threatened to kill the victims, shouting, “We came to kill you! We will kill you!”
Multiple people were injured during the incident, including one individual who said they lost feeling in their legs and collapsed multiple times, the indictment says.
The men allegedly caused over $20,000 in damages, forcing the restaurant to close temporarily.
If convicted, Stepanyan and Chalikyan could each face a maximum of 10 years in prison for the hate crime charges and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.