BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Two men are facing federal charges in connection to a hate crime attack targeting a Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills.
Back on November 4, 2020, a group of men walked into a restaurant on South Beverly Drive and began destroying property. The suspects allegedly attacked the employees inside the restaurant and later in the alley outside of the business.
According to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), one of the suspects allegedly shouted "We came to kill you! We will kill you!"
On Tuesday, the DOJ announced 23-year-old Harutyun Harry Chalikyan was arrested in connection to the Nov. 2020 attack and a second suspect -- 23-year-old William Stepanyan -- is in state custody and is expected to appear in federal court.
Surveillance video from the restaurant shows a group of about eight men running into the place, as the owners flee out the back, they start throwing chairs around, and violently trashing the small eatery that has been at that location for almost ten years.
The owners told FOX 11 days after the Nov. 2020 incident that they have been getting threats over the phone, ever since fighting began between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Turkey has backed Azerbaijan in its military fight over the region of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh).
So far, the large protests organized by the local Armenian community have been very peaceful, but to authorities, this escalation is reminiscent of the bloody explosion of tension in the late 1970s, in Southern California.
That’s when Bahadir Tamir, a visiting Turkish diplomat and the Turkish Consul General from Los Angeles, Mehmet Baydar, were both assassinated in Santa Barbara.
A 77-year-old identified as Gourgen Yanikian, shot the two men, explaining later to authorities that he was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Neither of the slain officials had been alive during that time but Tamir had come to view the Turkish officials as symbols of decades of injustice.
Even today, the events are remembered by Armenians all over the world, including Southern California, which is home to the largest population of Armenians outside of the country of Armenia.
Every time tensions between Turkey and Armenia explode overseas, it echoes into the local populations, with marches and occasional incidents.