SAN FRANCISCO—Around 2:25 a.m. on Saturday, September 19, officers patrolling the Stonestown neighborhood heard gunshots near the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School at 825 Brotherhood Way. Authorities searched the area for suspects, but no one was found and reported a bullet hole in a sign of the school.
Police officers were assigned to guard the school after two other events suspected to be hate crimes: the same campus was tagged with anti-Armenian and pro-Azerbaijani graffiti in July and an Armenian church building on Commonwealth Avenue near the Richmond District caught fire in a suspected arson last Thursday, September 17.
Arakelagan Yegeghetsi started a GoFundMe for the damaged St. Gregory The Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church, where the fire started in three adjacent rooms including that of the Sunday School. The San Francisco Police Department has launched a hate crime investigation for all three events.
The incidents come amid tensions between neighboring countries Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have continued to remain unresolved since the fall of the Soviet Union. Between July 12 and July 16, at least 16 service members from both sides were killed: 4 Armenian and 12 Azerbaijani soldiers, including a major general; the worst reported losses for both countries in four years.
On Monday, September 21, a spokesperson for the FBI said the agency was aware of the incidents and in “regular contact with local authorities.”
“Should information come to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate,” the agency stated.
State Senator Anthony Portantino told Asbarez, “Our churches and church facilities are peaceful places for communities to pray, congregate and support one another. They should not be subjected to arson, vandalism and hate crimes. My heart breaks for Very Reverend Father Smpad Saboundjian, the entire St. Gregory the Illuminator congregation and the greater Armenian American community for this unnecessary act of intimidation.”