A 39-year-old Sikh man narrowly escaped death after he was shot in a suspected hate crime in Washington Friday, just nine days after Kansas-based Indian immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, tragically lost his life in a similar incident.
The Sikh man was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood at about 8 p.m. local time, when an unidentified, white male approached him. Following a squabble, the perpetrator shot him in the arm, shouting, "Go back to your own country.”
The victim, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, was released from the hospital Saturday. He said the assailant was wearing a mask, covering the lower half of his face. The local police have launched an investigation.
“We are treating this as a very serious incident,” said Kent police Chief Ken Thomas, according to The Seattle Times.
In response to the incident, Sikh Coalition, a New York-based civil rights group, released a statement calling on “national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority.”
“Tone matters in our political discourse, because this is a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate.”
Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, told The Seattle Times that the victim is “very shaken up, both him and his family.”
“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.”
Sikh men in Washington’s Puget Sound-area have recently reported a rise in verbal abuse and uncomfortable encounters, added Singh, who condemned a “kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded a surge in hate crimes across the country over the past few months, with “anti-immigrant” attacks the main motivation for committing a hate crime. The number of hate groups operating in the country also rose to near-historic highs in 2016, according to the center, which it attributes to Trump’s election.