SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A shooting at an Armenian school over the weekend in San Francisco has sparked a new hate crime investigation — the third hate crime against an Armenian establishment in the city within the last two months.

Around 2:25 a.m. Saturday, officers patrolling the city’s Stonestown neighborhood heard gunshots near the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School at 825 Brotherhood Way.

Officers searched the area to no avail, but noticed a sign outside the school was riddled with bullet holes. No one was injured in the shooting, police said.

The shooting is the second hate crime to occur at the school.

“I’m very upset and angry. I have a lot of nieces and nephews who come here a lot of friends have kids who come here and this is getting ridiculous,” said former student Saro Sarkisian. “I mean gunshots at a school!”

“It’s reprehensible,” said Khatchig Tazian, a leader in the Armenian-American community in San Francisco, who wants the FBI to investigate.

“We would like to see federal help come into this. Because it is a hate crime and it’s escalating as we speak,” said Tazian. “It started with graffiti, then to arson, now it’s a shooting. The next one is probably going to be somebody getting shot.”

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but several members the Armenian-American community in San Francisco said they suspect it has something to do with military tensions on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.

Tazian said his community is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attacks. He is urging calm.

“We’ve been organized as a community for a long, long time. And we don’t take bait like that. I’ll take this opportunity to remind everybody in the Armenian-American community to just take a deep breath and step back and make sure we don’t give into emotion and don’t give into their violence. Because it will even escalate further.”

On July 24, suspects were seen on surveillance video breaking into the same school and vandalizing its walls with graffiti that conveyed anti-Armenian messages. The suspects in that case remain at large, police said.

Then, early Thursday morning, firefighters extinguished a suspected arson fire at the St. Gregory The Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church at 51 Commonwealth Ave. in the city’s Laurel Heights neighborhood.

Although no one was injured in the blaze, it caused extensive damage to the church’s office and library, among other facilities. The suspected arson fire drew outrage from District Attorney Chesa Boudin, as well as members of the city’s Armenian community.

A GoFundMe campaign to help the church with repair costs has already raised more than $40,000 of its $100,000 goal as of Monday afternoon. The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/san-francisco-armenian-church-amp-community-offices.

Anyone with information about any of the cases is asked to contact to police’s 24-hour anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to text a tip to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.

 

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