On Sept. 15, Balbir drove to Costco, searching for an American flag to display at the gas station. On his way out, he donated $75 to the Sept.11 victims’ fund. At 2:45pm, Balbir was stooped outside the gas station, planting flowers, when the shots rang out. Leaving Balbir drenched in a pool of blood, his assailant sped off, tires squealing, in a pickup truck. [cite]
This killing was both pre-meditated and racially motivated. As the prosecution pointed out, “Roque had practiced shooting and reloading before killing Sodhi.” When he was arrested the next day, Roque brazenly wrapped himself in the flag:
When police arrived at Roque’s mobile home he yelled, ‘I’m an American patriot, arrest me and let the terrorist go wild!’ [cite]
Roque also told the police that he was “‘standing up for his brothers and sisters’ in New York” by his actions which included shooting at a gas station owned by a Lebanese man and a house occupied by an Afghani family after murdering Sodhi.
Roque’s actions generated a reaction. 3,000 people showed up for a service commemorating Sodhi’s death, and more than 10,000 sent letters of support and condolence.His killer said, “I’m an American patriot, arrest me and let the terrorist go wild!” Prime Minister Vajpayee of India called President Bush to express concern and ask him to protect Indian citizens in the US from further violence. Roque himself was convicted and sentenced to death.
Sadly, tragedy struck the family again less than a year later when Balbir Singh’s brother, Sukhpal Singh Sodhi was killed in mysterious circumstances. Sukhpal, a San Francisco taxi driver, was shot and killed while driving in the Mission. Nothing was taken, leading to suspicion that this may have been another hate crime as well. All in all, as many as 19 people may have been killed in 9/11 related hate crimes.
Thanks to Valarie@DNSI for reminding me of the anniversary of this event with her own post on the subject.