Two men were charged with attempted murder Tuesday in the stabbing of a man who works as a bodyguard for a nationally known figure popular among the alt-right, prosecutors said.
Edgar Khodzhasaryan, 30, of Glendale, and Arsen Bekverdyan, 31, of Burbank, were charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing following a dispute in a Santa Monica parking structure on Saturday, according to Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Tim Gionet, a popular alt-right Internet personality better known by his Twitter handle, @BakedAlaska, identified the victim as Antonio Foreman. Gionet did not witness the attack but said he spoke with the victim when he visited him in the hospital on Monday.
Gionet, who said Foreman sometimes works for him as a bodyguard, told his more than 175,000 Twitter followers that the assault was politically or racially motivated. Foreman is an ardent supporter of President Trump, and had been leaving an event in support of the president when he was attacked, Gionet said.
Law enforcement officials flatly dismissed the claim.
Prosecutors did not file a hate crime enhancement with the charges, Ardalani said. Lt. Saul Rodriguez, a Santa Monica Police Department spokesman, said the attack was spurred by an argument.
“There’s nothing here that would lead us to believe it was targeted or a hate crime or anything like that,” Rodriguez said.
Khodzhasaryan and Bekverdyan were exiting the parking structure and attempting to call for a parking attendant to help them operate the gate around 11 p.m. on Saturday when the victim “made a comment to the suspects which led to an argument,” Rodriguez said.
All three men exited their vehicles and a fistfight erupted, Rodriguez said. The suspects fled a short time later, and the victim realized he had been stabbed, according to Rodriguez. The victim, whom Rodriguez would not identify, was transported to an area hospital in critical condition.
Khodzhasaryan and Bekverdyan were arrested a short time later while being treated for minor injuries at an area hospital, Rodriguez said. Khodzhasaryan is also suspected of a probation violation.
Both were being held in lieu of $1 million bail, and were scheduled to be arraigned in the Airport Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, Ardalani said. It was not immediately clear who was representing them.
Gionet is a former BuzzFeed employee and popular right-wing Internet personality who has many fans among the alt-right movement, a loosely connected fraternity of white nationalists and other far-right groups.
Foreman is also affiliated with the Oath Keepers, according to Gionet. The Oath Keepers, a group comprised largely of former law enforcement officers and military veterans, often provides security for far-right protesters and at demonstrations in support of Trump.
The group has been described as “one of the largest radical anti-government groups” in the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic extremists and hate groups.
Gionet told The Times that Foreman was stabbed nine times by two suspects who made anti-white comments either prior to, or during, the attack. Gionet said Foreman, whom he described as one of his best friends, was in stable condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday.
On Twitter, Gionet alleged one of the suspects yelled, “You’re getting the shank White Boy,” before the attack.
4:30 p.m.: This article was updated to indicate that Tim Gionet did not witness the attack but spoke to the victim in the hospital.
4:05 p.m.: This story was updated with information about the charges filed against the assailants.
11:45 a.m.: This story was updated with additional information about the suspects.
This story first published at 10:10 a.m.