Men accused in hate crime shootings jailed

March 12, 2010 1:42:50 PM PST
Three Hayward men accused of targeting a San Francisco man they thought was gay with a BB gun last month were taken into custody in San Francisco Superior Court today after prosecutors said they intended to file additional charges related to several other possible victims.

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office has not filed an amended complaint against the men -- Shafiq Hashemi, 21, Sayed Bassam, 21, and Mohammad Habibzada, 24 -- but said there are plans to do so based on evidence from a videotape allegedly found with the men that appears to show 11 additional victims.

All three men were arrested the night of the Feb. 26 incident and appeared in court this morning.

They had been out of custody after posting $50,000 bail last week, but prosecutor Victor Hwang today asked Judge Bruce Chan to raise their bail to $450,000 apiece.

Defense attorneys for the men did not contest the bail hike and the men were handcuffed and led off to jail. Arraignment and plea entry was again postponed until April 8.

Defense attorneys declined to comment about the case to reporters.

In the initial case, a 27-year-old San Francisco man had just come out of a bar at 16th and Guerrero streets in the Mission District at about 10 p.m. when he was shot once in the cheek, police said.

The man, who was not seriously injured, called police and told them he had been shot from a nearby car, which then drove off. While officers were interviewing him outside the bar, the suspect car drove by again and police pulled it over.

Inside they allegedly found the three men with a "rifle-style" BB gun and a video camera, which investigators later discovered had recorded the shooting, according to police.

At the time of the arrest, "The suspects did make a confession, basically stating that they came to San Francisco to target gay people," police spokesman Officer Samson Chan said.

According to district attorney's office spokesman Brian Buckelew, 11 more unnamed male victims were shot at along the same stretch of 16th street that evening. None of the additional victims have come forward to police.

Anyone who may have been a victim is asked to contact the Police Department's hate crimes unit at (415) 553-1133.

Prosecutors have charged all three men with assault with a deadly weapon, negligent discharge of a firearm, hate crimes and attempted mayhem, a charge relating to the possibility of a disabling or disfiguring injury.

According to Buckelew, the men are Muslim and prosecutors have evidence they may have committed the alleged acts because they believe homosexuality is against their religion.


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