FBI joins investigation into Sikh man’s shooting
Activists wants Trump administration to make hate crime a priority after Rai was shot and wounded near Seattle.
The FBI is helping police in the US city of Seattle hunt for the attacker who shot a Sikh man and told him to “go back to your own country”, authorities said.The victim, a US national of Indian origin, was identified by India’s foreign minister as Deep Rai.
He told police that a gunman described as six feet tall, stocky built and covering the lower half of his face, approached him on Friday as he worked on his car in his driveway.
Rai says they got into an argument before the gunman shot him in the arm.
The FBI said it remains “committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated” in a statement, according to The Seattle Times. On Sunday, Kent Police chief Ken Thomas said no arrests had been made following the attack that took place about 32km south of Seattle.
“This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect,” Thomas said in an email, adding that the city of about 120,000 should “be vigilant”.
The attack in Washington state comes after a man of Indian origin was killed and two other people were wounded in a shooting at a Kansas bar that federal agencies are investigating as a hate crime.
Witnesses said the suspect yelled “get out of my country” before he opened fire.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died at a hospital while Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24, were in a stable condition. The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group based in New York, has called on the Donald Trump administration to make “hate crime prevention a top priority”.
“So far, the administration has done nothing in this regard,” the group’s interim director of programmes Rajdeep Singh Jolly told Al Jazeera.
“These attacks are part of a broader pattern of hate and violence against immigrants and religious minorities. What’s particularly chilling is that in both cases – the anti-Sikh attack near Seattle and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla – both men were told to “go back to their country”.
“Xenophobic political rhetoric is literally putting lives in danger.” Hira Singh, a Sikh community leader, said there have been increasing complaints from Sikhs near Seattle who say they have been the target of foul language or other comments.
“This kind of incident shakes up the whole community,” he said, adding that about 50,000 members of the faith live in Washington state.
Sikhs have previously been the target of assaults in the US after the 9/11 attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims around the country expanded to include those of the Sikh faith.
In 2012, a man shot and killed six Sikh worshippers and wounded four others at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before killing himself.