By Lyda Longa
The U.S. Department of Justice and police are investigating the shooting of a Port Orange man driving over the Dunlawton Bridge as a hate crime.
The victim, 46-year-old Kanwaljit Singh, was driving with his son and wearing a head turban when he was shot at six times by people in a black truck. Two of the bullets struck Singh, who family members say was in the intensive care unit Monday at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
The turban is one of the precepts of his Sikh religion, said Navtej S. Khalsa, regional director of the southeast chapter of the national Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Khalsa said his organization believes the attack on Saturday night just after 11 p.m. was a hate crime because the shooters probably thought Singh — an American citizen of Indian descent — is from the Middle East.
“Since Sept. 11, Sikhs have often been the targets of hate crimes because of their visible outward appearance, primarily the wearing of the turban,” Khalsa said. “In the past three years, hate crimes against Sikhs have risen across the country.
Lou Ruffino, a spokesman with the Community Relations Service in Washington, D.C. — under the Department of Justice — confirmed that Mildred Duprey de Robles from the federal agency’s Miami office would be looking into the shooting.
The Community Relations Service was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Ruffino said. On the agency’s website, the Community Relations Board is described as the “peacemaker” for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color and national origin.