Craig Matthew Tanber, a 37-year-old member of a notorious Orange County white supremacist gang and accused of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Shayan Mazroei, has been charged with murder.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin maintains the two men got into a fight "over a girl" at outside a bar in Laguna Niguel on Sept. 8.
However, friends and family of Mazroei – an Iranian-American – believe it was a racially motivated attack, which is why they are calling on authorities to charge Tanber with a hate crime.
"This wasn't supposed to happen. It was a racist act," Mazroei's girlfriend, Madilyn Legaard told KTLA. "This isn't the type of thing that should happen to a 22-year-old kid."
A Change.org petition, “Justice For Shayan,” claims a woman named Elizabeth Thornburg was present with Tanber on the night of the stabbing. She allegedly made “racial remarks” to Mazroei which “incited the altercation” that led to his death.
The page further states that Tanber and Thornburg – both of whom have an alleged “history of racism, violence and killing” – waited in the parking lot to ambush and murder Mazroei.
The petition calls on the Orange County District Attorney’s office to further charge Tanber with a hate crime and investigate Thornburg's involvement in the killing.
Apart from being a known white supremacist and documented gang member, Tanber was previously convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2004. After serving a 13-year sentence, he was released on parole in June. A number of other run-ins with the law also came to light during the investigation into the recent case.
If convicted, Tanber faces a maximum sentence of 76 years to life in state prison, KTLA reports.