The 39-year-old Sikh man was working on his car in his driveway in Kent, Washington, just south of Seattle, when a man walked up wearing a mask and holding a gun.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, there was an altercation, and the gunman — a stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face — said “Go back to your own country” and pulled the trigger.
Authorities are investigating the shooting as a suspected hate crime, the newspaper reported.
The victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was shot in the arm at about 8 p.m. Friday and suffered injuries that are not life-threatening, the newspaper reported. The man who shot him is still on the loose. Kent police have reached out to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for help.
The Washington state shooting comes just weeks after an Indian man in Kansas was killed and another was injured by a gunman who told them to “get out of my country” before opening fire in a bar.
In the Kansas case, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died from his wounds. Alok Madasani, 32, was released from the hospital Thursday. A third person, Ian Grillot, a patron at the bar, was shot while trying to intervene, The Washington Post reported.
Authorities there were also investigating whether the shooting was motivated by bias, a widely-held suspicion among the victims’ family members.
The father of the injured Indian man said the rhetoric of President Donald Trump contributed to negative feelings in the nation and implored parents in India “not to send their children to the United States.”
The White House disputed the family’s claim.
Family members of the two men said in interviews that they feared the current atmosphere in the United States. “There is a kind of hysteria spreading that is not good because so many of our beloved children live there,” Venu Madhav, a relative of Kuchibhotla, said. “Such hatred is not good for people.”
Madhav said that “something has changed in the United States.”
Relatives of the Indian men told the Hindustan Times that they were friends who had not antagonized the alleged shooter, Adam Purinton, and that Purinton had instead “picked an argument” with them and suggested they were in the country illegally. Purinton is charged with first-degree murder.
“They tried to tell him that they had done their [master’s degrees] in Kansas in 2006 and had been staying there with valid work permits,” a relative said.
Sikhs have faced similar fears since Sept. 11, 2001, worried that they are singled out for persecution because of their religious head coverings, according to Sikhnet, a global virtual community for the religion’s adherents. Sikhs, who wear turbans as part of their religion, are from northern India and are neither Hindu nor Muslim, according to Sikhnet.
“Many Sikhs have become victims of hate crimes because of their appearance,” according to the site.