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FBI Investigating Shooting of Seattle-Area Sikh Man in Possible Hate Crime

The announcement came as officials and advocates in Washington State and beyond offered condolences and sent messages of defiance and caution.
Image: Vehicles sit parked Sunday, March 5, 2017, at the home and driveway where a Sikh man was shot in the arm Friday, March 3, 2017, in Kent, Washington.
Vehicles outside the home where a Sikh man was shot in the arm Friday in Kent, Washington.Ted S. Warren / AP

Federal authorities are investigating the shooting of a Seattle-area Sikh man that local police have described as a possible hate crime, an FBI spokeswoman told NBC News on Sunday.

The announcement came as officials and advocates in Washington State and beyond offered condolences and sought to send messages of defiance and caution.

On Twitter, India's embassy said the country's U.S. ambassador had conveyed "deep concern" to U.S. officials and had emphasized the need to protect the Indian community.

Earlier, India's foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the injured man was a 39-year-old U.S. national from India.

Citing the man's father, Swaraj said he was struck in the arm and recovering in a private hospital.

A partly masked white assailant opened fire around 8 p.m. (11 p.m. ET) Friday while the Sikh man was working on a car in his driveway in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Police Chief Ken Thomas said.

The masked assailant confronted the man, Thomas said, telling him something "to the effect of: Get out of our country. Go back to where you're from."

The assailant remained at large on Sunday.

The shooting came less than two weeks after a white gunman allegedly targeted two Indian men in a Kansas bar and told them to "get out of my country."

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed, and Alok Madasani, 32, was injured. A third man, Ian Grillot, 24, was also injured while trying to protect the men.

The alleged gunman, Adam Purinton, 51, was charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder.

Sapreet Kaur, executive director of the national Sikh Coalition, told NBC News that Sikhs are struggling with how to respond to what she described as an uptick in harassment over the last three months.

She recalled a recent meeting where someone asked what to do if confronted with the "go back to your country" message.

Related: Hundreds of Hate Crimes Reported Since Election: SPLC

"The first thing you do is make sure you're safe," Kaur said. "The second thing you do is think about whether or not you can engage in a productive discussion."

She added: "These are real events. This is not conjecture that something could happen. Things are happening, and so it's important for all of us to take a stand against hate."