Fresno police arrested a 29-year-old person in connection with a brutal attack on an 81-year-old Sikh man, on Sunday, with a steel rod outside a gurdwara (a temple for the Sikh community members) in central California.
The attack happened just after 07:00 a.m. local time on Sunday outside the Nanaksar Sikh Temple in southwest Fresno, as the victim, Piara Singh, was walking down the road, the Fresno Bee reported.
Gilbert Garcia, who has a record of arrests in the Fresno area, was arrested about 08:00 a.m. local time on Sunday in a rural neighborhood a half-mile away, police chief Jerry Dyer told Fresno Bee.
The victim was reportedly approached by a man in his late 20s or early 30s, who was riding a bicycle and armed with a steel rod. Without saying a word, the attacker beat Singh in the head and body.
Singh has been receiving treatment for head injuries, broken ribs and lung lacerations.
Temple officials say the attack was not a robbery and that Singh had never seen the man before.
“This is a hate crime,” Gurdev Singh Muhar, a priest of the Fresno gurdwara, was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI) in a report from Washington.
The incident in Fresno, which has a sizable Sikh population, came as a shock for the Sikh community in the U.S., as well as the Hindu-Americans and Arab-Americans.
In April last year, six people were shot dead in a rampage at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, while they were preparing for their traditional Sunday feast.
Police identified the gunman as Wade Michael Page, 40, an army veteran. Page committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after he was wounded in the stomach by police gunfire.
Sikhism, a monotheistic faith founded in South Asia, is the world's fifth largest religion with an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 adherents in the U.S, according to the Religion News Service (RNS).
Male Sikhs often keep their uncut hair bound up in a turban.
If Sunday’s attack is determined to be a hate crime, federal charges could be filed, Mark Cullers, chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fresno was cited as saying by the Fresno Bee. That could be in addition to any state charges filed against the assailant, he said.