Turkish flags hung at Armenian schools in Los Angeles being investigated as hate crime

Authorities are investigating the hanging of several Turkish flags outside two Armenian schools in the San Fernando Valley as possible hate crimes, police said.

Los Angeles police released video of a suspect around 4:40 a.m. on Jan. 29 jumping a front gate and zip tying 12 Turkish flags throughout the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School and Holy Martyrs Apostolic Church, located in the 5300 block of White Oak Avenue in Encino.

Detectives said a similar incident was reported at AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, located in the 6800 block of Oakdale Avenue in Winnetka.

The incident at the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School was being investigated as a hate crime because the suspect trespassed onto school property, officials said.

"This is tantamount really to hanging a Nazi German flag at a Jewish school, that's how offensive this is," Nora Hovespian, chair of the national Armenian committee of America western region, said at a news conference.

The Ottoman Empire is blamed for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians about a century ago. Turkey, the successor of the Ottoman Empire, denies allegations of genocide.

The Los Angeles area has one of the largest Armenian American populations.

"My biggest question would be, 'What makes me believe that my kids and the future kids of this school are safe," parent Nadya Donikian told FOX 11. "What makes me think that this person who hung a flag is not going to show up tomorrow with an automatic weapon and just clean up this place?"

Dickran Khodanian, communications director of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, called the act "absolutely disgusting and unacceptable in 2019."

On Tuesday afternoon, students at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School hung Armenian flags in response to the incident.

The male suspect is between 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 11 inches tall. He was wearing a black mask, a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and black shoes.

Anyone with information was urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Detective Division at 818-374-7730. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.