Thousands honor man slain in apparent hate crime

Associated Press

PHOENIX — Nearly 3,000 people gathered Saturday to remember Balbir Singh Sodhi, an Indian immigrant killed in what police say was a hate crime that followed the terrorist attacks.

They were Sikh, Jew, Christian, Muslim and more, some with veils or turbans, others in suits and ties. Many never knew Sodhi, but they offered prayers, songs, tears and sympathy anyway.

"My father had a lot of friends, but no enemies. The word hatred was not in his vocabulary at all, but he ended up falling from the bullet of hate," said Sodhi’s son, Sukhwinder Singh. "My family doesn’t want any innocent people hurt."

Sodhi, who like many male Sikhs had long facial hair and wore a turban, was killed during a Sept. 15 shooting spree that authorities said targeted the victims because of their race.

His death touched off protests in India and a call to President Bush by India’s prime minister.

Authorities called the shooting a hate crime, but haven’t said whether it was linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"On Sept. 11, America was attacked from abroad," Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said during the nearly two-hour service at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. "However, with the murder of Mr. Sodhi, we have now been attacked from within."

Authorities said Frank Silva Roque shot Sodhi outside his gas station in suburban Mesa.

Police reports say Roque then drove 10 miles to a second gas station, fired several shots through a window at a Lebanese-American clerk, and then fired shots into the home of a family of Afghani descent. No one was injured in the last two shootings.

Roque, 42, an aircraft mechanic at Boeing, is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and three counts of drive-by shooting. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Police said Roque told them he was a patriot when he was arrested. He has declined all media interviews.

Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano said Sodhi’s name belongs among the list of victims from the terrorist attacks. "How dare anyone claim it is out of patriotism to let the terrorists add another name to their death toll," she said.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read