Burlington police have charged a man with a hate crime after what they said was a racially motivated incident in the city’s North End.
Police said that on Friday afternoon a black woman was walking with her child on North Champlain Street when a man approached her, called her a terrorist and pointed what appeared to be a gun at her.
After getting eyewitness accounts and a description of the man, police said they narrowed their search to Michael Kochalian, a local person they are familiar with. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, with a hate crime enhancement. No firearm was found.
“Our officers take hate-motivated crimes very seriously, and their response here was fast and decisive,” Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said in a statement. “Attacks against individuals based along the lines of race, religion, gender, or any other identity are intolerable and violate the basic values of our community. We value our partnership with State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, which allows for collaborative responses to these serious crimes.”
Police said Kochalian has an extensive criminal history in Vermont: two felony charges with one conviction and 42 misdemeanor charges with ten convictions. His charges include simple assault, unlawful trespass, disorderly conduct, and violation of conditions of Release.
In a news release, police noted that Kochalian has a history of profane and aggressive outbursts. Kochalian also has two pending cases in the Superior Court for simple assault and Disorderly Conduct.
He was lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Facility and arraigned on the hate-crime enhanced charge. Bail has been set at $500 and has not been posted.