More elected officials react to arson at Armenian community center
Less than a month after being vandalized with pro-Azerbaijani graffiti, San Francisco’s Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian school was again target of a pattern of hate crimes, when the local police reported that shots were fired at the school building over the weekend.
San Francisco police officers were patrolling the KZV Armenian School at around 2:25 a.m. Saturday morning when someone fired a bullet that damaged the school’s sign. No one was injured by the gunfire.
The officers were assigned to guard the Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian school after the campus was tagged with anti-Armenian graffiti in July and the building adjacent to the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church was set ablaze on Thursday. An arson investigation is underway.
The officers immediately searched for the source of the gunshots, but no suspects were located. During the search, officers located a damaged sign in front of the school, which appeared to be caused by a bullet, but no injuries were reported.
In a statement, the San Francisco Police Department said it had “taken steps to increase the safety and security of the community.”
“However, we ask that the community remain alert and report anything suspicious to the police,” the department said. “Investigators are actively working to identify those responsible for the crimes and to place them under arrest.”
Police said the officers who heard the gunshots near the school Saturday “immediately searched for the source of the gunshots, but no suspects were located.”
“We are more determined,” said Haig Baghdassarian of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region. “We’ve gotten anecdotal reports of individual community members having received threats—Armenian-owned businesses and individuals.”
On Monday, a spokesperson for the FBI in San Francisco 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 said.
“We commend local authorities who are diligently investigating these most recent attacks, but at the same time we expect for the perpetrators to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to prevent similar acts of hate and aggression in the future and for our communities to operate in peace and safety,” said the Western Prelacy in a statement.
“We are confident that our local community remains vigilant and more determined than ever in its resolve to service,” added the Prelacy.
More elected officials reacted to Thursday arson fire at the Armenian community center adjacent to the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church.
“Hate crimes against the Armenian community are tragically on the rise, and must not be tolerated,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA.) in a Facebook post.
“This week’s shooting near the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco marks the third incident of hateful violence against the Armenian community in California just this month. Thankfully there were no injuries or deaths,” added Schiff. “We all stand together to condemn these vile and hateful attacks against the community.”
“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.” said State Senator Anthony Portantino in a statement sent to Asbarez. “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.”
“I fully encourage the San Francisco Police Department’s investigation to swiftly determine the cause of the blaze and hold those responsible strictly accountable under the law,” added Portantino.
“This wonderful congregation has recently been subjected to hate crimes that harm the San Francisco Armenian American Community but also harm all of us. It is important to remember that what affects one community affects all communities. I have visited the KZV Armenian School affiliated with St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church and enjoyed fellowship and celebration in the Khachaturian Center with friends and families who pray at the church and send their children to the KZV School. They should be able to do so without fear, threats and arson. We should all stand in solidarity to oppose every effort to inject that threat into this peaceful community. I join with many others wishing the St. Gregory the Illuminator congregation a swift rebuilding of its prized and historic agoump,” reflected Portantino.