Authorities in Elk Grove, California are still investigating a drive-by shooting, in which two elderly Indian Sikh males were targeted, and they believe that the two victims became the targets of a possible hate crime.
Elk Grove police say that the shooting happened Friday afternoon, at East Stockton Boulevard and Geneva Pointe Drive, when the two victims, identified as 65-year-old Surinder Singh and 78-year-old Gurmej Atwal, were taking a walk through their neighborhood. At some point, gunfire erupted, striking the two innocent men.
Atwal was taken to an area hospital, where his condition has been listed as “critical,” and where he was required to have surgery for his injuries; he was shot in the chest. Singh, on the other hand, died at the scene. Both victims were deemed as longtime companions.
The incident has left members of the Sikh community shaken.
Since this case is believed to be a hate-motivated offense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was also informed, since such offenses violate both federal and state laws, according to police.
Even if this case is believed to be a hate-motivated offense, police do not have enough evidence that would indicate the likely motive. But, according to Police Chief Robert M. Lehner, “the noticeable Sikh appearance of the victims, including the traditional Dastar headwear and lack of any other apparent motive, increasingly raise that likelihood.”
According to Basim Elkarra, who is known as the executive director of the Sacramento Valley Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV), Sikh men also have beards and turbans; and with that appearance, they also become the frequent targets of bias and prejudice by bigots or racists who confuse them with Muslims.
“The Muslim community is offering their condolences and support to the Sikh community in this moment of grief,” according to Elkarra.
A $5,000 reward is being offered by the CAIR-SV to anyone who has information leading to the capture and conviction of those responsible for this hideous crime. Further, the Sikh community has just announced that they are now offering a reward of $10,000.
Elk Grove is a splendidly and wonderfully diverse community, and the likelihood that one of the respected community groups might have become the target due to their national origin or religion is of vital concern, according to Lehner.
At this moment, no suspects have been determined and no arrests have been made. There could be multiple suspects involved.
Authorities believe that the suspects were driving a 1999-2003 tan or light brown Ford F-150, since it was spotted in the area right after the shots rang out.
Elk Grove is located about 16 miles south of Sacramento.
Anyone with any further information about this case is encouraged to contact Crime Alert at 916-443-4357 or the FBI. It is highly recommended that tipsters should remain anonymous when reporting tips about actual criminal cases.