A masked gunman in the United States shot a man from the Sikh community in a Seattle suburb, shouting “go back to your own country”, The Seattle Times reported on Saturday. Kent Police said the shooter had approached the victim – identified as 39-year-old Deep Rai – on Friday while he had been working on his vehicle in his driveway, before shooting him in the arm.
Rai is a US citizen of Indian origin. A leader of the Sikh community in Renton, Jasmit Singh, said he was told Rai has been released from hospital. “He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,” he said, adding that “the climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone”.
Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said the investigation was in its early stages and that they were treating the shooting “as a very serious incident”. Authorities have also contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to look into the attack, AP reported. Police are on the lookout for the shooter, who the victim described as a 6-foot-tall, white man with stocky build.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was sorry to hear about the attack on Rai and had spoken to his father Harpal Singh. “He told me that his son had a bullet injury on his arm. He is out of danger and is recovering in a private hospital,” she said on Twitter.
New York-based civil rights group the Sikh Coalition has demanded that the incident be investigated as a hate crime. “We need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority,” said Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager Rajdeep Singh.
This comes on the heels of reports that a man of Indian origin was found dead outside his residence in South Carolina on Thursday. Harnish Patel, 43, owned a convenience store in Lancaster County. On February 22, an engineer from Hyderabad, Srinivas Kuchibhotla had been murdered in a hate crime in Kansas.