Sikh store clerk mistaken for Muslim called ‘terrorist’ & shot in face by robber
The owner of the store said that on Saturday the 34-year-old clerk, who goes by “Tony,” was accused by a masked man of being a terrorist and a member of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The robber also said he used to killed people like Tony in Iraq with “no problem,” according to WXMI-TV.
The gunman shoved his rifle into the clerk’s face and demanded money. Fearing for his life, Tony decided to fight back and grabbed the rifle, which then went off, firing a round through his cheek, according to MLive. The robber left with an undisclosed amount of money.
“We’re very proud of how he responded in light of this incident. This could’ve been much, much worse given the apparent intent of the suspect,” Grand Rapids Police Sargent Terry Dixon said. “If the victim had not fought off the suspect, then this could’ve been a much more serious incident.”
Dixon told WOOD-TV that, so far, the police are treating the case as an armed robbery and a shooting, as further investigation is needed to determine if the incident can be classified as a hate crime.
Tony was released from the hospital on Sunday, just a day after the incident.
The store owner’s daughter, Gaurleen Kaur, said that Tony was targeted because of his ethnicity, according to MLive.
“It could’ve happened to anyone that looks like us,” said Kaur, who is also of Indian descent.
“We’re Americans,” she said. “We’re trying to live normal lives, be Americans.”
Following attacks by Islamic terrorists in San Bernardino and in Paris, assaults against Muslims have escalated, with some incidents taking place involving Sikhs who were mistakenly believed to Muslims.