KENT, Wash. – Kent Police officers call it a hate crime and now the FBI is investigating a shooting in Kent that injured a 39-year-old Sikh man. Police say the shooter was a white male who told the man to “Go back to his own country” before shooting him. The shooting happened Friday night at about eight in the Panther Lake Neighborhood on the East Hill of Kent.
Saturday morning, Q13 News spoke with members of the Sikh community about what happened. The say they won’t let prejudice and violence frighten them.
“It was very disheartening to see the news that somebody was actually a victim of a hate crime in a city where we have never felt that before. It hasn’t happened,” said Sikh faith leader Satwinder Kaur.
Saturday morning the Kent Police Chief and members of the religious faith Sikh met in solidarity to show support for a man gunned down in his own yard while working on a vehicle.
“He was approached, confronted by a subject and 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,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas.
Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas says a white man hurled those angry comments including expletives at the 39-year-old victim now recovering from non-life threatening injuries. This sparked Thomas to call the FBI and open a hate crime investigation.
“It is our belief and our opinion based upon the opinion of my investigators that our victim is absolutely credible and this incident did occur exactly as he described,” said Thomas.
While law enforcement search the property for evidence, members of the victim’s faith community band together.
“We’re much bigger than one incident,” said Kaur.
Wearing ‘Faith Over Fear’ t-shirts saying they won’t be silenced or forced to hide their beliefs. Historically in this country, the Sikh are often times confused with people of the Islamic faith, but the Sikh are not Muslims. Sikh leaders believe ignorance leads to prejudice.
“Sikh is a faith from northwestern India. We believe in one God. We believe in selfless service,” said Kaur.
Kaur and other Sikh leaders hope to reach those who are confused or fearful of who they are to build understanding and tolerance for all members of every faith.
“We would be willing to teach them or answer of the questions they may have about our community, about our faith, why we tie the turban, why we look the way we do or anything,” said Kaur.
All while city, county, and federal law enforcement search for the gunman.
“This type of activity will generate the full force and effect of the Kent Police Department and all resources that we can possibly muster up to hold all people who commit this type of crime that is completely unacceptable to hold them responsible,” said Thomas.