A Los Angeles federal grand jury indicted two Armenian American individuals on charges of conspiracy and hate crimes for allegedly attacking five people last year inside a family-owned Turkish restaurant, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said the suspects went into the restaurant on November 20 and assaulted five people, four of whom were of Turkish descent. The attackers allegedly yelled racial slurs about Turkish people. “We came to kill you,” they said, before causing $20,000 in damage.
Officials unsealed the indictment on Tuesday after police arrested 23-year-old Harutyun Harry Chalikyan of Tujunga. The second suspect, 23-year-old William Stepanyan of Glendale, was already in state custody at the time, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Chalikyan pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and his attorney was not immediately available for comments. Authorities expect Stepanyan’s arraignment in the next few weeks. They did not immediately say if he had an attorney who will represent him.
The suspects attacked the Turkish restaurant amid local demonstrations criticizing the involvement of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the hostilities against Armenia. United States President Joe Biden declared the early 20th century killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.