Police in the Seattle area are investigating a hate crime after a masked gunman told a Sikh man to "go back to your country," before shooting him. This is not to be confused with another hate crime in Kansas, where an Indian man was shot to death in a bar after being told to "get out of my country."
Sikh man's shooting in Washington investigated as hate crime
The victim, a 39-year-old Indian man who wears a turban in observance of Sikh faith, was shot outside his home in Kent's East Hill neighborhood on Friday night. He suffered a non-life threatening injury.
According to police, the victim was working on his car in his driveway when he was approached by an unknown man, who asked something along the lines of "why are you cleaning your car?" The conversation became heated and the man threatened the victim, making statements to the effect of "Go back to your own country," before he pushed him to the ground, pulled out a gun and shot him in the arm.
While the victim's injuries were non-life threatening, authorities say they are treating the shooting as "a very serious incident." Kent police are coordinating the investigation with the FBI's Seattle office.
"The FBI remains committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated and we continue to work with all our community partners in the Seattle area," a spokesperson said in a statement.
The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization that advocates for the Sikh community, says it's important for the shooting to be investigated as a hate crime, calling on national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority -- particularly now, as many recent attacks appear to be spurred by hateful and divisive political rhetoric.
"While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority," Sikh Coalition spokesman Rajdeep Singh said in a statement. "Tone matters in our political discourse, because this a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate."
The gunman is described as a white male, around six feet tall with a medium build. According to the victim, he was wearing dark clothing and some sort of mask that covered the bottom part of his face. He presumably fled the scene on foot.
The victim, who is originally from India, said he didn't know the shooter and had never seen him before.
This shooting comes on the heels of a similar incident in Kansas, where two Indian engineers, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were approached by gunman, Adam Purinton, who told them "Get out of my country" before shooting them. Kuchibhotla was killed.
Brown guy can't go to a bar without getting shot. He can't even clean his car in his own driveway. Be careful out there, folks. If you hear someone say "go back to your country," a hate crime is sure to follow.
More here: Sikh man in Kent says he was told, 'Go back to your own country’ before he was shot