Older Sikh couple attacked, police say not a hate crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A 70-year-old man was bloodied and bruised after armed robbers found him and his wife not far from their Fresno home. The robbers struck around sunset Monday night on the northwest side of town, near the intersection of Polk and Acacia.

The neighborhood doesn't feel so much like home now for the man and his 69-year-old wife. The victims were taking their nightly walk along Polk when up ahead in the distance they noticed three young men turning the corner and walking towards them. At that point, they turned around. They walked back in the other direction but not fast enough to get away. Two of those guys caught up and one of them was armed.

"He pulled out a folding knife and told the male victim he wanted money and his cell phone," said Fresno police Lt. Joe Gomez. "He repeated that three times."

The man didn't have any money, but he gave up his phone. As soon as he did, the guy without a knife launched an attack of his own.

"He just rushes and kind of cold cocks the victim in the face, really for no reason," Gomez said.

The victim fell to the ground as blood spilled all over his clothes. The robbers patted down his wife to make sure she had nothing of value and then they took off.

Just a couple blocks from the scene of the attack is a new Sikh temple and members there have been on high alert in light of recent assaults classified as hate crimes against Sikhs.

Last September, Gilbert Garcia was convicted of attacking Piara Singh because of his cultural appearance.

Alexis Mendoza and Daniel Wilson,Jjr., are also charged with a hate crime for attacking Amrik Singh Bal, including by running him down in a car -- an act caught on surveillance video from a home in the area. But police say this one is not a hate crime.

"It looks like young robbers picking on older people. That's what the motivation is here," Gomez said.

No matter the motivation, the attack is unsettling to the Sikh community and the 70-year-old victim has the injuries to prove it.
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