Kent police look for gunman who allegedly walked onto victim’s driveway and shot him in the arm; Sikh community sees rise in abuse.
Kent police are looking for a gunman who allegedly walked onto a man’s driveway and shot him, saying “Go back to your own country.”
The victim, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by an unknown man, Kent police said, after talking with the victim.
An altercation followed, with the victim saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “Go back to your own country.” The victim was shot in the arm.
The victim described the shooter as a 6-foot-tall white man with a stocky build. He was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face, the victim said.
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Kent police say they’ve reached out to the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies.
“We’re early on in our investigation,” Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said Saturday morning. “We are treating this as a very serious incident.”
Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital.
“He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,” Singh said. “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.”
In a statement Saturday, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based civil rights group, asked local and federal authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
Singh said 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.
“But at that time, it felt like the [presidential] administration was actively working to allay those fears,” he said. “Now, it’s a very different dimension.”
Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager Rajdeep Singh, in calling for the hate crime investigation, said in a statement: “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. 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.”