Stymied by a lack of witnesses, Kent police and the FBI are turning to the public for help as they investigate the shooting of a Sikh man who says he was wounded by a masked gunman who told him to “go back to your own country.”
Police Chief Ken Thomas asked that anyone who might have been near the site of the Friday night shooting to contact authorities if they have information that could help detectives.
“We need the public’s assistance to help us solve this crime,” Thomas said Thursday at a news conference at Kent City Hall.
Police have yet to identify a suspect in the shooting that has drawn national attention and prompted a federal civil-rights investigation. Police released a sketch of the masked man during the news conference, showing most of his face covered.
Police have set up a phone line for tips, 253-856-5808, and are offering a reward of $6,000. In addition, Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of $1,000 and tips can be called in to 1-800-222-8477.
Deep Rai told police he was working on his vehicle in the driveway of a Kent home about 8 p.m. when a 6-foot-tall, stocky white man approached wearing a mask on the lower half of his face.
Police said an altercation followed, with the man shooting Rai in the arm and telling him to “go back to your own country.”
The gunman fled on foot.
Rai, 39, was released from the hospital Sunday.
With no known witnesses, police have only Rai’s account of the shooting, which happened outside a home rented by his family.
Rai often used the property to work on his family’s construction trucks, said Harminder Singh, the president of Gurudwara Singh Sabha, the Renton temple where Rai worships.
Rai is a U.S. citizen originally from India, that country’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said in a tweet. Thomas said police believe he was targeted and had been wearing a turban when the shooting occurred.
FBI agent Jay Tabb said the FBI is trying to determine whether the shooting was a bias or hate crime.