Sikh man shot because of his appearance, police say

AP, May 21, 2003
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PHOENIX (May 21, 6:21 a.m. ADT) – A truck driver who was shot and seriously wounded was apparently targeted because he is a Sikh who wears a turban, police said.

Avtar Singh, 52, an Indian immigrant, was the second Sikh in less than two years to be shot in Arizona apparently because of his appearance. A gas station owner was killed in Mesa just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, allegedly because the gunman thought he was an Arab.

Singh had parked his 18-wheeler late Monday and called his son, who was a few blocks away, to pick him up. While he was waiting, at least two young white men pulled up and started yelling, Singh said at a Phoenix hospital Tuesday.

“I hear that voice: ‘Go back to where you belong to.’ And at the same time I heard the shot,” Singh said.

The men wounded Singh in the lower abdomen and upper thigh. He was not robbed and nothing was taken from the truck, said Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales.

Local and federal authorities were investigating it as a hate crime. No suspects had been found.

Singh, of Phoenix, wears a turban and untrimmed beard as part of his faith.

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