Sikhs respond to shooting near Seattle with fear, disbelief

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Community activists in Western Washington and around the country are calling for action after an attack on a Sikh American man in Kent.

Police say the shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

More than 40 different community groups gathered at a vigil in Crossroads Park in Bellevue Sunday evening to speak out against the shooting and shed light on other suspected hate crimes around the country.

Police say a 39-year-old Sikh man was was in his driveway working on his car Friday when a masked man approached him and began yelling, "Go back to your own country."

Police say the suspect shot the Sikh man in the arm.

Authorities say the Sikh man has been released from the hospital and is back home with his family. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Community leaders at the vigil Sunday called the shooting heartbreaking.

"We were hurt because it could happen to any one of us," Satwinder Kauer, a Sikh-American community leaders said. 'It could be my son, it could have been my dad. It hit close to home."

The shooting suspect is a white male about 6 feet tall. Police say the man has a stocky build and was seen in dark clothing and a mask covering the lower half of his face. The FBI is involved in the investigation.

Several hundred others gathered at a Sikh temple in Renton for worship services Sunday about one mile from Friday night's shooting.

"Everybody who is part of this community needs to be vigilant," Satwinder Kaur, a Sikh community leader, said as people poured into the temple.

"It is scary," she added. "The community has been shaken up."

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said no arrests have been made yet. He does not believe anyone is in imminent danger.

"This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect," Thomas said in an email to the Associated Press, adding that residents in the city of about 125,000 should "be vigilant" but also not let the shooting hurt their quality of life.

The FBI's Seattle office said in a statement Sunday that it is "committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated."

The shooting comes after an Indian man was killed and another wounded in a recent shooting at a Kansas bar that federal agencies are investigating as a hate crime after witnesses say the suspect yelled "get out of my country."

Sikhs have previously been the target of assaults in the U.S. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims around the country expanded to include those of the Sikh faith.

Male observant Sikhs often cover their heads with turbans, which are considered sacred, and refrain from shaving their beards. The faith comes from South Asia's Punjab region.

In 2012, a man shot and killed six Sikh worshipers and wounded four others at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before killing himself.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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