‘Go back to your own country’: Sikh man shot in his driveway in suspected hate crime
By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
March 4 at 6:12 PM
The 39-year-old Sikh man was working on his car in his driveway in Kent, Wash., just south of Seattle, when a man walked up wearing a mask and holding a gun.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, there was an altercation, and the gunman — a stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face — said “Go back to your own country” and pulled the trigger.
Authorities are investigating the shooting as a suspected hate crime, the newspaper reported.
The victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was shot in the arm at about 8 p.m. Friday and suffered injuries that are not life-threatening, the newspaper reported. The man who shot him is still on the loose. Kent Police have reached out to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for help.
The Washington state shooting comes just weeks after an Indian man in Kansas was killed and another was injured by a gunman who told them to “get out of my country” before opening fire in a bar.
In the Kansas case, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died from his wounds. Alok Madasani, 32, was released from the hospital Thursday. A third person, Ian Grillot, a patron at the bar, was shot while trying to intervene, The Washington Post reported.
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Sunayana Dumala, whose husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead at a crowded bar in a Kansas City suburb on Feb. 22, spoke at a news conference on Feb.24. The accused gunman reportedly yelled "get out of my country" before firing at Kuchibhotla and a friend, who was also Indian. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)
Authorities there were also investigating whether the shooting was motivated by bias, a widely held suspicion among the victims’ family members.
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The father of the injured Indian man said the rhetoric of President Trump contributed to negative feelings in the nation and implored parents in India “not to send their children to the United States.”
The White House disputed the family’s claim.
Family members of the two men said in interviews that they feared the current atmosphere in the United States. “There is a kind of hysteria spreading that is not good because so many of our beloved children live there,” said Venu Madhav, a relative of Kuchibhotla. “Such hatred is not good for people.”
Madhav said that “something has changed in the United States.”
Relatives of the Indian men told the Hindustan Times that they were friends who had not antagonized the alleged shooter, Adam Purinton, and that Purinton had instead “picked an argument” with them and suggested they were in the country illegally. Purinton is charged with first-degree murder.
“They tried to tell him that they had done their [master’s degrees] in Kansas in 2006 and had been staying there with valid work permits,” a relative said.
Sikhs have faced similar fears since Sept. 11, 2001, worried that they are singled out for persecution because of their religious head coverings, according to Sikhnet, a global virtual community for the religion’s adherents. Sikhs, who wear turbans as part of their religion, are from northern India and are neither Hindu nor Muslim, according to Sikhnet.
“Many Sikhs have become victims of hate crimes because of their appearance,” according to the site.
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Sikh man’s shooting investigated as hate crime
Federal agencies are investigating the shooting as a hate crime after witnesses say the suspect yelled "get out of my country."
Sunday, March 05, 2017 12:45PM
KENT, WA —
A Sikh man said a gunman approached him as he worked on his car in his suburban Seattle driveway and told him to "go back to your own country" before shooting him in the arm, authorities say.
Police in the city of Kent are searching for the shooter and have contacted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It comes after an Indian man was killed and another wounded in a recent shooting at a Kansas bar that federal agencies are investigating as a hate crime after witnesses say the suspect yelled "get out of my country."
"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," Kent police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner told The News Tribune of Tacoma.
India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, identified the victim on Twitter early Sunday, saying, "I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a U.S. national of Indian origin."
She said she had spoken to Rai’s father, who told her Rai is out of danger and recovering in a hospital.
Rai told police that a man he didn’t know came up to him Friday night and they got into an argument, with the suspect telling Rai to go back to his homeland. He described the shooter as 6 feet tall and white with a stocky build, police said. He said the man was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face.
Sikhs have previously been the target of assaults in the U.S. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims around the country expanded to include those of the Sikh faith.
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.
In 2012, a man shot and killed six Sikh worshippers and wounded four others at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before killing himself.
The Sikh Coalition, a national civil rights group, asked local and federal authorities to investigate the shooting in suburban Seattle as a hate crime.
"We’re early on in our investigation," Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas told the Seattle Times on Saturday. "We are treating this as a very serious incident."
Hira Singh, a Sikh community leader in Kent, said Sunday that the news was a shock to him.
"This kind of incident shakes up the whole community," he said.
He said there have been increasing complaints recently from Sikh community members who say they have been the target of foul language or other comments.
About 50,000 Sikhs live in Washington state, with most in the Puget Sound region, he said.
"It was disheartening to see it happening here in my community," Satwinder Kaur said. "Kent is a very diverse community. We haven’t seen a hate crime happening at this level."
Kaur said she had arranged for Kent’s police chief to talk to the community Saturday about their concerns on immigration and the role of local police officers. After the shooting, the meeting turned into a question-and-answer session about the crime, she said.
"When someone says ’Get out of my country,’ it’s a hate crime, there’s no question," Kaur said. "The community has been shaken up."