Transient arrested in connection to attack on Sikh man outside of temple
FRESNO – Police arrested a man who allegedly beat an elderly Sikh leader at the Sikh temple in Fresno during an apparent hate crime.
The attack happened around 7 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Nanaksar Sikh Temple in the 3000 block of South Cherry Avenue. The victim, 81-year-old Piara Singh, was walking down Cherry Avenue when a man riding a bicycle and holding a steel rod approached him, authorities said.
The man, identified as 29-year-old Gilbert Garcia, began hitting Singh in the head and body with the steel rod without saying a word.
“Mr. Singh was targeted because of who he was, what he was wearing, his ethnicity, his religion,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Singh is currently hospitalized with head wounds, broken ribs and a punctured lung, but he is expected to make a full recovery.
Police took Garcia into custody around an hour later in a rural neighborhood a half-mile away from the scene of the attack. Authorities said that Garcia uttered a threat in an outburst as he was being arrested, but they declined to say what that threat was.
Garcia is facing charges of attempted murder. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying to determine if the incident qualifies as a federal hate crime. The FBI is evaluating the case with help from federal prosecutors as well as the civil rights division.
Dyer says that Garcia does not have a history of hate crimes and this incident isn’t related to any other attacks on members of the Sikh community.
“What we don’t want is for people to become fearful or paranoid. If we do, they win,” he said.
Fresno Bee: Fresno police arrest transient in attack outside Sikh Temple
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