Two men will serve time in federal prison after a 2020 hate crime where they caused damage to a Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills.

In October of 2021, William Stepanyan, 23, and Harutyun Harry Chalikyan, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one county of committing a hate crime.

Now Stepanyan will spend five years in federal prison, with Chalikyan sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

“These defendants were driven by hate, and their actions were deplorable,” United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said. “The physical injuries and emotional trauma to the victims cannot be understated. We hope that the sentences handed down today will help vindicate those harms.”

The November 4, 2020 incident occurred in the midst of the Nagorno-Karabakh war where the Azerbaijani army, with aid from Turkey, attacked Armenian forces in Artsakh.

Evidence in the case found that Stepanyan, who is Armenian-American, had sent out a text the day of the incident, saying he planned to go “hunting for Turks.”

Later that night, Stepanyan met with Chalikyan and both men entered the Cafe Instanbul restaurant, yelling slurs, throwing chairs, overturning tables, “ripping out” computer terminals and destroying a plexiglass barrier.

“That evening, the defendants drove to the restaurant with a group of approximately nine individuals who planned to demonstrate outside the establishment because they considered it symbolic of Turkey,” The Department of Justice said in a press release. “Upon arriving at the restaurant, Stepanyan and Chalikyan stormed inside, threw hard wooden chairs at the victims, smashed glassware, destroyed a plexiglass barrier, and overturned tables. One of the defendants asked the victims, ‘Are you Turkish?’ and shouted, ‘We came to kill you! We will kill you!’”

There were multiple non-life threatening injuries as a result of the incident and the men will pay $21,000 in restitution, on top of the prison time.



LA Weekly