SAN FRANCISCO — Three Hayward cousins are facing hate crime charges after a man was shot in the face with a BB gun because the attackers believed he was gay, according to San Francisco authorities.

A video of the assault and other similar crimes was recorded by the attackers and is being held as evidence, assistant district attorney Brian Buckelew said.

Mohammad Habibzada, 24, Shafiq Hashemi, 21, and Sayed Bassam, 21, were arrested about 15 minutes after the shooting, when police spotted a car in the area that matched a description given by the victim. The suspects have addresses in Hayward.

The attack happened around 10 p.m. Feb. 26, when the victim was standing outside a bar in San Francisco's Mission district, smoking a cigarette.

He told police that a silver Volvo drove by and he was shot in the cheek by someone wielding an air rifle from the car.

After interviewing the suspects, investigators concluded the victim was targeted because the assailants thought he was gay.

The victim was not seriously injured, police said.

All three suspects are facing three felony counts and one misdemeanor. They include assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, and attempted mayhem.

"Here we have a guy, shot in face with BB gun, who could have easily been shot in the eye," Buckelew said.

The latter two counts include a special allegation that the crime was committed with the intent to violate the victim's civil rights.


Advertisement

The misdemeanor charge alleges they violated the victim's civil rights.

All three suspects are out of custody, each on a $50,000 bond. They are scheduled to be arraigned Friday, at which time the district attorney will request bail be raised to $100,000 because of the severity of the charges.

Bucklew said "multiple" other victims are on the confiscated video, and the crimes appear to have happened in San Francisco. He said they have not had anyone else come forward, but more charges may be filed if someone does.

"This is an open and active investigation, and we are looking to identify other victims," he said.

Anyone with information about this or possibly connected crimes may contact the San Francisco Hate Crimes Unit at 415-553-1133.

Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473.