SAN FRANCISCO — Three Hayward cousins have pleaded guilty to shooting a man in the face with a BB gun because they thought he was gay, and were sentenced to six months in jail.

Mohammad Habibzada, 24, Shafiq Hashemi, 21, and Sayed Bassam, 21, also will be on probation for three years and must complete as much as 400 hours of community service, including 40 hours of hate-crime sensitivity training, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

Police said the men went to San Francisco on Feb. 26 armed with an air rifle and video camera, targeting people who they thought were gay, including a man who was standing outside a Mission District bar smoking a cigarette.

They shot the man in the cheek and were caught soon after when the victim — while giving a report to police — spotted their car still in the area.

The victim was not seriously injured, police said.

Investigators found the rifle and camera, which contained footage of 11 additional attacks that appeared to occur in San Francisco.

There was not enough evidence to pursue charges in the other attacks, said Brian Buckelew of the District Attorney's Office.

"It was unclear whether anyone was hit, and because no one came forward, we can't do anything with that," he said.

The men pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of negligent discharge of a BB gun, but with a hate-crime enhancement.


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"Normally the charge would be a misdemeanor, but with the hate-crime allegation, it becomes a felony," Buckelew said. "That's why (the allegation) is important."

The men had been charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor, including assault with a deadly weapon with a hate-crime enhancement, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence and attempted mayhem.

Buckelew said the settlement offer was made after considering input from community groups, the victim, the seriousness of the injury and the seriousness of specifically targeting people based on their sexual orientation. He said they also took into account the age, lack of criminal history and remorsefulness shown by the defendants.

The men will be formally sentenced May 13.

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