The shooting of a 39-year-old Sikh man in Washington state by a partially-masked gunman is being investigated as a possible hate crime, as concern among the Indian community about their safety in the US increases.
Deep Rai, a US national, was working on his vehicle outside his home on Friday night in the city of Kent when an unidentified man approached him. The man shouted “go back to your own country” and then shot Rai in the arm following an argument.
The Kent police department is investigating the shooting that left Rai wounded as a possible hate crime, according to a report in KIRO 7 news.
Rai, a Sikh, was wearing a turban.
He has described the shooter as a six-feet-tall white man, wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face. Kent police are looking for the gunman.
“To think this could happen in our community is very surprising and very disappointing,” police Chief Ken Thomas was quoted as saying in the report.
Thomas added the suspect and the victim did not know each other. “This is the first incident of this magnitude that I am aware of in the city of Kent,” Thomas said.
Members of the Sikh community had contacted law enforcement officials and were pushing authorities, including the FBI, to investigate this as a hate crime.
One man said a lot of people are scared and couldn’t believe something like this could happen here. “All they see is a person with a turban, so it could have easily been me,” Amarjit Singh was quoted in the report as saying.
The case is the latest in a series of troubling incidents of apparent hate crimes, where members of the Indian community have been targeted.
Last month, 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and his friend Alok Madasani was injured after a US Navy veteran opened gun fire at them, yelling “get out of my country”.