The West Sacramento Police in California said they suspect that the tradition turbans worn by the Surinder Singh, 68, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, could have become beacons for an attack on them.
"Because they sported the turbans they might have been singled out," the police said. The Elk Grove police department said that last week''s shootout would be the first targeting the sikhs in the city if it turns out to be the hate crime. They also said FBI had been called in as it was suspected to be a hate crime.
While Singh died on the spot, Atwal is still reported to be in a critical condition and a deeply shocked community in the area have joined together to offer a reward of USD 30,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the culprits, who shot the two on Mar 4.
This amount is over and above the USD 5,000 reward offered by a top Islamic body, who strongly condemned the attack.
Sikh men in beards and turbans are often targeted for discrimination by bigots who mistake them for Muslims, the Council on American-Islamic Council-Sacramenton Valley''s Executive Director, Basim Elkarra said.
"The Muslim community offers its condolences and support to the Sikh community in this time of sorrow, he said.
About 100 religious leaders, including ones from the Sikh community gathered at a Gurudwara in California, announcing a rise in the award money to informants that would lead to arrest of those responsible. Not ruling out the possibility of a hate crime, police has made no arrests so far in the case.
Investigations have revealed that the assailants used a tan or light brown 1990 to 2003 Ford F150 pickup truck for shooting at Singh and Atwal on Friday evening, when the two neighbours were on their daily evening walk on Elk Grove Sacramento, California.