NEW YORK--At first, a masked man with the long gun appeared to be carrying out a terrifying, but a convenience store hold-up. However, it turned out to be a possible hate crime.
A store clerk of Indian descent in Grand Rapids, Michigan was shot in the face by a robber who called him a “terrorist” and insisted he was a member of ISIS.
Local media outlet MLive reported that the victim, 34, whose name was not released, recalled the shooter saying “he used to kill people like him in Iraq.” Police confirmed the statements.
The clerk, whose name was not released, worked at a store in Michigan owned by Sikh-American businessman Inderjit Singh.
Late on Saturday, the armed robber ordered the clerk into a back room, where he put the barrel of his rifle in the worker’s mouth. Afraid for his life, the clerk grabbed the gun, briefly struggled with the shooter, and turned his head. When the robber fired, the bullet went through the worker’s cheek, saving his life.
The clerk sustained injuries and was released from hospital over the weekend. He told his co-workers that the robber called him a “terrorist” because he is of Indian descent.
Singh’s daughter Gurleen Kaur, said the robber demanded money from the store worker then led him to a back room where he put the barrel of a long gun into the worker’s mouth.
The victim, 34, told Kaur that the robber called him a “terrorist” and said he was part of Islamic State terror group.
The worker, fearing he would be killed, grabbed the rifle and was shot in the cheek during the struggle, she said. Grand Rapids Police sergeant Terry Dixon said the victim responded bravely.
Armed Robbery/Shooting - Media Release pic.twitter.com/PGdbfjyULV— Grand Rapids Police (@GrandRapidsPD) December 13, 2015
“We’re very proud of how he responded in light of this incident. This could’ve been much, much worse given the apparent intent of the suspect,” Dixon said.
“If the victim had not fought off the suspect, then this could’ve been a much more serious incident.”
Kaur said the gunman threatened the worker allegedly because of his ethnicity “but I don’t know why he did what he did,” she said.
“It could’ve happened to anyone that looks like us,” she said.
“We’re Americans,” she said. “We’re trying to live normal lives, be Americans.”
The robber, wearing a mask and holding a gun, left with an undisclosed amount of money.
(With inputs from PTI)
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