Hate crime? Sikh man shot in his own driveway

Police are searching for a suspect who shot a man in a residential driveway in Kent, Washington, on Friday, before shouting a hate-filled comment at the victim.

On March 3, a 39-year-old Sikh man was in the driveway of his home in Kent, when he was approached by a man who said, “Go back to your own country,” and shot him in the arm.  The assailant was described as a stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face.  The victim, who has not been identified, sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas, in a news conference held after the incident, called the shooting “surprising” and “extremely disappointing.” Authorities are investigating the shooting as a suspected hate crime against the Sikh community, and have reached out to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for help.

The man who shot him is still on the loose.

A few weeks ago, another Indian man in a Kansas City suburb was killed and another injured by a gunman who told them to “get out of my country” before opening fire in a bar. That suspect is in custody and charged with the murder.

Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital and will recover physically, but, “He is just very shaken up, both him and his family.” He added, “The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone,” noting that Puget Sound-area Sikh men in particular have reported a rise in verbal abuse and uncomfortable encounters recently, “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.”

To Singh, the number of incidents targeting members of the religion, which has its roots in the Punjab region of South Asia, recalls the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Sikhs wear turbans as part of their religion and are from northern India. They are neither Hindu nor Muslim, according to Sikhnet.

“Many Sikhs have become victims of hate crimes because of their appearance,” according to the site.