Shootings of people with Indian heritage in the United States are raising concern, as four Indian men have been shot in recent weeks in different areas of the country.
In one of the recent cases, Harnish Patel, an Indian-American store owner was gunned down outside his home in Lancaster, South Carolina. The killing is unsolved, and police say they have no indication it’s racially motivated.
However, that shooting came the night before Deep Rai, a Sikh man, was shot outside his home in Kent, Washington. Rai survived the attack, which is being considered a possible hate crime.
In February, a U.S. military veteran is accused of shooting and killing an Indian man, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in a Kansas bar and wounded his friend. The Indian government has expressed concern over all of the cases, and people on social media are also drawing links. In the cases of Rai and Kuchibhotla, the killers are accused of shouting comments about leaving the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Patel, a Store Owner, Was Gunned Down Outside His Home
Patel, 43, was found shot to death in the yard of his home in Lancaster, South Carolina.
Patel was shot twice, and his murder is unsolved.
Patel was the owner of the Speedee Mart on Pageland Highway, and authorities believe he drove directly home from the convenience store in his minivan before being confronted by his killer as he emerged from the vehicle, according to WSOC-TV.
The Indian External Affairs Ministry has said it was told by the local sheriff that Patel’s death may not be a hate crime, but authorities have not released any information about a suspect or motive.
Sheriff Barry Faile said, “I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” according to National Herald of India.
2. Patel, a Married Father, Was Remembered for Helping the Community
WSOC-TV reported that Patel was married and has a child in elementary school. Indian Express reported that Patel “originally hails from Avakhal village in Sinor taluka of Vadodara district” and “had been living in the US with his family for over 14 years.”
The television station said Patel was known for his good nature.
WSOC reported that Patel was described as being kind to everyone and quoted a friend as saying, “I would have no idea who would do anything like this to him as good as he is to everybody.” The same friend, a customer, said that Patel would give people food for free if they did not have any money, according to WBTV.
“He was just trying to make it, live the American dream. He came here just to provide for his family,” another friend said, according to WBTV.
Police believe that Patel was shot on March 3 at about 11:24 p.m., according to WBTV. The television station said that Patel lives across the street from a long term care facility, a 911 caller described hearing screams, and Patel was found a few feet from the door of his home.
3. Rai, Who Is Sikh, Was Shot Outside His Home by a Man Who Shouted ‘Go Back to Your Own Country’
Deep Rai, 39, was working on his car outside his home in Kent, Washington on March 4 when “an unidentified person shot him outside his home and allegedly shouted ‘go back to your own country,'” reported India Today.
The Washington Post reported that Rai was approached by a “stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face” who shot him after hurling the comment.
The U.S. ambassador to India condemned the shooting.
A reporter for King 5 said authorities in Washington are investigating that shooting – which the victim survived – as a possible hate crime because Rai is Sikh.
4. Two Other Indian Men Were Gunned Down in a Kansas Bar After a Man Allegedly Shouted ‘Get Out of My Country’
In February, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old Indian engineer, was shot to death. A U.S. military veteran named Adam Purinton is accused of shooting Kuchibhotla to death and injuring his friend Alok Madasani before yelling “get out of my country,” reported India Today. Another man in the bar where the shootings occurred is being hailed a hero for trying to intervene.
Family members of those men criticized rising tensions in the United States, and Madasani’s father blamed President Donald Trump. He told The Washington Post, “The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president. I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the United States in the present circumstances.”
According to the Washington Post, witnesses believed the shooter thought the men, who were watching a basketball game in a bar when they were shot, were Middle Eastern.
5. The Shootings of the Indian Men in the United States Have Caused Great Concern
Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of External Affairs, wrote on Twitter, “I am pained to hear about the killing of Harnish Patel a US national of Indian origin in Lancaster, South Carolina.”
She also wrote, “Our Consul has reached Lancaster and met the family of Harnish Patel. The investigation of the case is in progress. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.”
On Twitter, Swaraj has also noted the two other recent shootings.
Of the Washington incident, she wrote, “I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai a US national of Indian origin. I have spoken to Sardar Harpal Singh father of the victim. He told me that his son had a bullet injury on his arm. He is out of danger and is recovering in a private hospital.”