Police south of Seattle are investigating a possible hate crime after a Sikh man said he was shot outside his home Friday by a man demanding that he “get out of our country.”
The victim was identified Sunday as 39-year-old Deep Rai by India’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj.
Swaraj, citing Rai’s father, said Rai suffered a gunshot wound to his arm in Friday’s attack. “He is out of danger and is recovering in a private hospital,” she posted on Twitter.
The man was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent, Washington, when the gunman confronted him around 8 p.m., Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said at a Saturday press conference.
“Some comments were made to the effect of ‘get out of our country, go back to where you’re from,’ and our victim was then shot,” Thomas said.
The assailant was described as a white male, around 6 feet tall, with a medium build. The victim said he had never seen the man before, the chief added.
“It is our belief and opinion, based upon the experience of my investigators, that our victim is absolutely credible and that this incident did occur as he has described,” Thomas said, according to Seattle station King 5 News.
“To think that this could happen in our community was very surprising and extremely disappointing,” he said.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been contacted, the chief said.
Hate crime-tracking groups note that Sikh men, who often cover their heads with turbans, have been mistaken for Muslims by perpetrators of religiously motivated crimes in the U.S.
The shooting came a little more than a week after an engineer from India was fatally shot in Kansas by a man who also allegedly yelled, “Get out of my country!” Adam W. Purinton, 51, has been charged with the murder of 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla in that case.