Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said a woman made a threat to him and his chief of staff during a Thursday morning news conference outside City Hall.
Bredefeld and chief of staff Nicole DeMera attended a news conference asking for the city council to reverse its decision on renaming several streets in honor of Cesar Chavez. Before the event started, they were accosted by Vanoush Ghatchaturian. She is known for a sometimes confrontational style of expressing her beliefs.
Ghatchaturian was upset about Bredefeld’s presence there stemming from a Bredefeld vote last year on a land deal involving Fresno’s Armenian Town project.
Bredefeld said Ghatchaturian made a threat.
“She walked up to me and she said something to the effect, ‘There’s a bullet waiting for you.’ And I said, ‘What did you just say?’ And she repeated it. And then she walked up to my staff person, Nicole, my chief of staff, and got in her face and started cursing at her: ‘F-you, F-you, F-you — there’s two bullets waiting for you.’ Now, that is obviously crossing the line,” Bredefeld said from the council dais.
Ghatchaturian, within eyeshot of others, visibly engaged in a yelling match with DeMera before they separated.
Fresno Police Start Investigation
Bredefeld said he would file a police report.
“I’m not going to tolerate that. And I’m not going to tolerate anybody threatening my staff. These are all city employees who come here and serve this community every day and do it very well, and they don’t deserve that crap,” Bredefeld said.
Ghatchaturian entered council chambers during the meeting. She left to speak with Fresno deputy police chief Burke Farrah about the incident. She said she was not arrested or detained and then left to return to work.
“As Councilman Bredefeld stated in council today, we will be taking statements from him, his assistant, and Councilman (Tyler) Maxwell today. It would be inappropriate to comment on the investigation at this time,” Farrah told GV Wire.
Bredefeld accused Ghatchaturian of assaulting Maxwell during an Armenian flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday. She denied the charge.
Ghatchaturian Tells Her Side, Criticizes ‘Zionists’
Speaking with GV Wire after Bredefeld’s comments, Ghatchaturian said she did not threaten Bredefeld or DeMera. She repeatedly said he “backstabbed” the Armenian community on the land vote. She also said that Bredefeld plans to visit Armenia next year.
“I went up to him and I said, ‘What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here.’ And I said, ‘You know, you going to Armenia? Game on. They all know what you did.’ ‘”
She continued: “Because, you know, he thinks he’s going to go to Armenia next year. So I said, ‘They play by different rules there. You’re going to have a bullet waiting for you in the head.’ And then Nicole got bitchy with me and I said the same to you. You guys are no one’s friend. These people are nobody’s friend.”
Ghatchaturian said that she plans to file litigation about the Armenian town vote, and continued to criticize Bredefeld.
“That’s all he does, is throw people under the bus and cry Chicken Little all the time,” Ghatchaturian said.
She admitted that “things got out of hand” before saying this: “Garry wasn’t even born Christian. He’s a Jew. Oh, my God. You know what? This is going to play out in Armenia because Israel is paying for the weapons for Azerbaijan to be killing Armenians because they have the interest in … oil.
“I don’t like Zionists, but I don’t care one way or the other. Just don’t be a Zionist. We’ve been in Israel much longer than the Jews have been.”