A 68-year-old Sikh man was stabbed to death in Fresno City, California on 1 January 2016. The incident has prompted local police to launch a hate-crime investigation into the attack, which marked the city's first homicide of 2016.
Gurcharan Singh Gill was an employee at a local alcohol store at Shields Express. Media reports indicate that Gill was at work when he was stabbed in broad daylight. Lieutenant Mindy Casto has said that a number of people in the local community believe that Gill was attacked because of his ethnicity. Officers of the Fresno Police Department were reportedly called to the scene and found the elderly man lying on the ground. Despite a medical team attempting to provide first aid, Gill was pronounced dead at the scene. The motive and cause of his death are yet to be determined.
Gill's death comes just days after another elderly Sikh man was brutally assaulted in Fresno. Amrik Singh Bal, 68, was waiting on the side of the road when two Caucasian men are believed to have attacked him. The men allegedly stopped their car and chased Bal down the street before beating him and hitting him with their car, NBC News reported.
Speaking about the incident, Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer told Fresno Bee: "We are investigating it as a hate crime based on the dress of the victim, the fact that this was an unprovoked attack, there does not appear to be any robbery-type motive involved, and he was physically attacked, repeatedly, while they were yelling at him."
The recent attacks in Fresno City reflect the increasing number of crimes against Sikh men since the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Due to the fact that Sikh men are easily identifiable, a number of people have been mistaking them for Islamic terrorists as fear grows in the United States.
On 14 December, the Obama administration assured Sikh Americans that they would do all they could to keep them safe from hate crime. Addressing a gathering of Sikhs at the White House, Valerie Jarrett, a senior political advisor for President Obama, said: "You are part of such a vital member of our community and a big and vibrant part of what makes our country so great. So when your community comes under attack, we are all in danger."