STOCKTON, Calif. — Although there is no clear motive or arrest in the murder of 64-year old Parmjit Singh last weekend, there is no doubt that members of the Sikh community don't believe what happened was random.
"Whenever we see a Sikh, turban wearing man killed in the United States, we know that we have to consider hate as a motive because we have had too much tragic experience that's often the case," says Amar Shergill with the American Sikh Public Affairs Association based in Sacramento.
Shergill pointed out the still unsolved murders of two Sikh grandfathers, 65-year-old Surinder Singh and 78-year-old Gurmej Singh Atwal as examples of what he believes to be hate crimes. In March 2011, both were shot to death while out on a walk in Elk Grove.
Since 2014, hate crimes have soared by 44% in California.
In 2017 alone, hate crimes in California increased from the year before by 17.4%, according to the latest hate crime statistics from the FBI. A trend of hate crimes in the United States is also on the rise.
In San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties, there were six cases of religious-related hate crime incidents in 2017. Five years earlier in 2012 there were none.
"Unfortunately, the Sikh community has been under attack for quite sometime now and especially after 9/11. The numbers went down and, now, we are seeing it rise again," says Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations, who is unified with the Sikh community.
There have been a string of attacks on members of the Sikh community in just the past couple of years alone.
In August of last year, a 71-year-old Sikh man was attacked and kicked in Manteca.
Less than a week earlier in Keyes, near Modesto, 50-year-old Surjit Singh Malhi of Turlock was beaten and his truck was vandalized with racist messages.
"Whenever bigots are incited, we see this type of violence. It happened after 9/11. It happened after the election of President Obama, and it happened over the last election cycle when bigotry and hate and statements that are irresponsible are in the news and on Twitter," said Shergill.
"If it's a possible hate crime, it has to be investigated thoroughly, you know, and bring the guilty to justice," says Davinder Singh, Secretary of the Sikh Temple in Stockton regarding the Tracy murder case of Parmjit Singh.
There is a $20,000 reward for the tip that leads to an arrest in that case.