Elk Grove police have not ruled out the possibility that the shooting of two elderly Indian men on East Stockton Blvd. Friday afternoon was a hate crime.
Surinder Singh, 65, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, were both wearing traditional Sikh headwear when they were shot near Geneva Pointe Drive, according to police spokesman Christopher Trim. Singh was pronounced dead at the scene Friday. Atwal was taken to a nearby hospital with gunshot wounds in his upper torso.
Because hate crimes violate federal law, the Elk Grove Police Department has notified the FBI it is investigating a possible hate crime. Police Chief Robert Lehner said in a press release Saturday that “the possibility that one of our valued community groups might have been targeted because of their national origin or religion is of grave concern.” Lehner added that police investigators will be meeting with local Sikhs to discuss the shooting.
A passing motorist called 911 after discovering the two men suffering from gunshot wounds on East Stockton Blvd. around 4 p.m. Friday.
In 2009, there were 1,100 hate crime events reported to the State Attorney General. Of those, only two homicides were classified as hate crimes in California. The victims were targeted for race and ethnicity in 57 percent of the incidents. The same year, officials reported three hate crime events in Elk Grove.