The Indian-American man who was the victim of a hate crime in Kent, Washington March 3, has helped police develop a composite sketch of the alleged attacker which was just released.
Commander Jarod Kasner, head of the Investigations Division of Kent Police Department, told News India Times, the shooter “has not yet been located or identified.” The suspect is a white man with a mask covering the lower half of his face, who shot and wounded Deep Singh Rai, 39, a Sikh man, in his own driveway, and yelled for him to get out of America.
“We conducted a re-canvassing of the neighborhood with the FBI, and have also created a tip-line people can call,” Kasner said, detailing the most recent steps taken to trace the attacker.
Rai was home the hospital and was well enough to come into the police station to help the department’s artist do the composite sketch. He also met the Chief of Police during the same visit. In a series of meetings following the incident, the City Council of Kent and the Police Chief met Sikh leaders and community members.
The incident which took place at around 8 pm on March 3, as Rai was working in his own front driveway, shook the established Sikh community in the area, and the rest of the residents the East Hill locality. Residents stepped forward to reassure the Indian-Americans of their concern and protection. Kent Police said they are treating this as “a very serious crime” and the FBI almost immediately joined the investigation.
While incidents of hate crime have occurred in the past, local Sikh leaders were puzzled why an old community where the first gurdwara was opened in the 1940s, was targeted. Today, there are five gurdwaras serving the more than 30,000 Sikhs living in Kent and surrounding areas including the town of Renton. Sikhs hold a range of jobs from software engineers to small businessmen and cab drivers.
“He’s (Deep Singh Rai) very shaken up and very afraid that the person is going to come back and get him again,” Jasmit Singh Kochar, the local Sikh Coalition leader in Renton, earlier told News India Times after the incident. But Rai appears to have overcome his fears.
The incident further mobilized Indian-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill to call for a hate crime investigation into the incident coming on the heels of the Feb. 22 killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian techie killed by a white man in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla’s friend Alok Madasani, and a bystander who tried to help, Ian Grillot, were also injured.
This is not the first time that an Indian-American has been victimized in Washington State because of their ethnic or racial origin. In October 2012, there was another attack on a Sikh cab driver in Federal Way, Washington, for which Jamie Larson was sentenced to 40 months in jail. In February 2015, a Hindu temple in Bothell, Washington was vandalized. In March 2016, a gurdwara in Spokane, Washington was vandalized.
“Yes, this recent attack is not something new,” conceded Kochar, “But the frequency is high now,” he told News India Times. “If you ask the general Sikh population about being confronted by people and abused, it has definitely increased over the last two months,” he said.
“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,” Rajdeep Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s interim managing director of programs said in a statement sent to News India Times after the Kent incident.