In what could be yet another hate crime, an armed robber shot a store clerk of Indian origin in the face after accusing him of being an “ISIS terrorist.”
The incident took place at a convenience shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just before midnight on Saturday. Although it started out with gun-wielding bandits entering the store and demanding money, the robbery took a more disturbing turn as the unidentified man pointed his gun at an Indian-American store clerk.
The store manager Gulreen Kaur told the police that after the clerk handed over a bag of cash, the robber stuck the gun in his mouth and said something along the lines of, “I shot people like you overseas in the Middle East.”
The masked man also called the 34-year-old Indian immigrant, who goes by Tony, a “terrorist” and a member of ISIS — even though, as it was revealed later, the clerk is not even Muslim.
The robber then dragged Tony into the backroom of the store and ordered him to stand on his knees. However, the struggle that ensued led to a bullet going through the clerk’s cheek. Although there is no video of the shooting incident, Grand Rapids police Sgt. Terry Dixon has confirmed the manager's statements.
"We're very proud of how [the clerk] responded in light of this incident. This could've been much, much worse given the apparent intent of the suspect," Dixon told local media. "If the victim had not fought off the suspect, then this could've been a much more serious incident."
Fortunately, Tony is still alive and recovering in a hospital.
“We shouldn’t be targeted for it because we have nothing to do with it. We are just trying to live our normal lives," the store manager said. "I grew up here and a lot of my Punjabi friends did. Whether we’re Indian or whether we’re (not), it doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t specifically be going for one race."
Following the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, hate crimes against Muslims on the rise across the United States. People are not only demonizing the community for the crimes committed by a few extremists, but they are also attacking them for their faith.
This latest assault just seems like another addition to a long — and growing — list of incidents driven by blind hatred and prejudice.