A 39-year-old Sikh man was in his driveway in Kent, Wash., on Friday when he was confronted by a masked man who told him, “Go back to your own country,” before shooting him in the arm, reports the Washington Post.
The victim has been identified as U.S. national Deep Rai by Indian officials in New Delhi, reports Times of India. Rai was working on his vehicle in his driveway when a stocky 6-foot-tall White male wearing a mask walked up to him with a gun, told him “Go back to your own country,” and shot him in the arm.
Authorities are investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime, and Kent police are still searching for the gunman. Rai sustained “non life-threatening injuries,” according to Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas. However, Kent police still intend to treat this as a “very serious incident” and have reached out to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
Kent police chief says dept. is investigating last night's shooting as a possible hate crime against member of Sikh community. pic.twitter.com/pLcWsobvm4
— Ryan Takeo (@RyanTakeoK5) March 4, 2017
“With recent unrest and concern throughout the nation this can get people emotionally involved, especially when (the crime) is directed at a person for how they live, how they look,” said Kent Police Commander Jarod Kasner, who noted the attention the incident is getting from the Sikh community.
An Indian government official said the government was ready to offer all possible assistance to Rai. In addition, the official said that the Consulate General of India in San Francisco is in contact with local authorities who are ascertaining the nature of the crime.
This is yet another case among many within the past several months where South Asians in the U.S. have been victims of apparent hate crimes. Last month, 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot and killed in a Kansas bar, after 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton yelled “get out of my country” and opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani.
Related: Suspected Hate Crimes have both Indian Americans and Muslims on Edge
FBI Labels Kansas Shooting a Hate Crime; Trump (finally) Denounces Attack
Earlier this week, 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner Harnish Patel was found dead from gunshot wounds in his front yard in Lancaster County, South Carolina. However, Patel’s ethnicity may not have played a role in the incident. “I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” said Sheriff Barry Faile.
Rai has apparently been released from the hospital, according to what Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, has been told. “We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now, this is just bringing it home,” he said. “The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone.” He also said that men from his community have reported a rise in incidents of verbal abuse.
In response to the tense atmosphere of the times, rights groups and ethnic Indian organizations have been reaching out to the community asking them to immediately report any incidents of hate crime or violence to law enforcement authorities.
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