SEATTLE — Police are investigating the shooting of a Washington man late Friday as a possible hate crime.
According to police, a 39-year-old Sikh man was working on his car in his driveway in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, at about 8 p.m. Friday when another man approached him. An argument ensued, and the suspect told him to go back to his homeland, the victim said. The victim told police the man then shot him in the arm.
Male observant Sikhs often cover their heads with turbans, which are considered sacred, and refrain from shaving their beards. The faith comes from South Asia’s Punjab region.
The suspect is described as a 6-foot tall white man. He was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face, the victim said.
“It is our belief and opinion, based upon the experience of my investigators, that our victim is absolutely credible and that this incident did occur as he has described,” Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said.
Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in the nearby suburb of Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital, the Seattle Times reported.
“He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,” Singh told the newspaper. “We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now, this is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone.”
Satwinder Kaur, a leader with a local Sikh group, is urging her community to stay positive.
“I would tell them to continue their lives as they are doing every day and continue teaching neighbors and other people, talking to them. Don’t be scared. Just because we’ve been through one incident, it shouldn’t hold us back.”
Kent police have reached out to the FBI and other local agencies for assistance in their investigation.
Sikhs have previously been the target of attacks in the United States. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims across the country expanded to include Sikhs and their faith as well.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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