A Michigan gunman shot a Sikh store clerk in the face, after labeling him a “terrorist” and calling him an ISIS supporter.
The incident took place a short while before midnight on Sunday, December 13, in a party shop called Bottlenecks, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
An unidentified perpetrator, wielding a gun and hiding his face with a mask, threatened the store clerk, asking him to hand over money from the cash register. The 34-year old victim, known as Tony, complied and emptied the cashbox, giving the armed robber what he had asked for.
As recounted by Gurleen Kaur, the store’s manager, who was also present when the frightful moments unfolded, instead of being appeased, the gunman reacted violently, dragging the shop assistant into a storage area, where he shoved his weapon into the young employee’s mouth.
He then proceeded to spurt out offensive words, accusing the man of being a terrorist and a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The culprit also gave a hint regarding his identity, when he claimed that he had fought and shot people like Tony on several occasions, while being deployed in Iraq.
Eventually, the clerk decided to tackle his assailant, managing to gain control of the weapon, which detonated, injuring Tony’s cheek.
Soon after, the gunman fled the liquor store, firing his rifle several more times, and staff immediately called 911, so as to report the incident. Law enforcement from the Grand Rapids Police Department soon arrived at the scene, and have started an investigation, so as to identify the perpetrator and bring him to justice.
For now, the unsettling first degree felony is being approached as an aggravated robbery during which a victim was shot.
Sergeant Terry Dixon of the Grand Rapids police has said that footage captured by surveillance cameras must be thoroughly examined, and more evidence must be collected before the attack can be classified as a hate crime as well.
Authorities have praised Tony for the way he handled being in such a desperate situation. According to them, if the store clerk hadn’t reacted against his aggressor, the armed robbery could’ve had a much more disastrous ending.
It’s unclear exactly why the gunman was quick to associate his victim with a member of the ISIS, given that Tony, who is still receiving care following his injuries, is actually a Sikh of Indian descent, having emigrated from Punjab, and is by no means Middle Eastern, or a follower of Islam.
As the manager of the food and drink shop explained, any other person of similar origins could’ve fallen victim to such savage acts, despite trying to lead a normal, peaceful life in the United States.
It’s nothing short of condemnable that certain ethnicities or religions are targeted, after being unjustly blamed for the misdeeds committed by extremists.
Grand Rapids resident Rishi Makkar, who is also a Sikh and owns a company called Rishi’s International Beverage, has also deplored the gunman’s vicious behavior.
Makkar emphasized that Sikhism, which is the world’s 5th largest religion, teaches non-violence and tolerance, having therefore no relation to jihadism whatsoever.
In fact, it must be noted that ever since November 13, when Paris was ransacked by ISIS terrorists in a string of concerted attacks, a staggering number of 71 hate crimes targeting Muslims have unfolded across the United States and Canada.
Many of the victims were actually Indian, or Sikh, but were wrongly considered to be associated with Sunni extremists from the jihadist group known as ISIS.
Image Source: WZZM13