Bay Area Sikh man attacked as group urges hate crime charge for suspects

RICHMOND (KTVU) -- A national group is urging that authorities pursue hate charges for two men who allegedly attacked a Richmond man apparently because of his religious beliefs.

The Sikh Coalition, a national group, sent a letter Friday to the Richmond police chief and the Contra Costa District Attorney, urging them to investigate the attack last month on Maan Singh Khalsa.

Khalsa, 41, is a member of the Sikh Center in El Sobrante and a U.S. citizen who works for the Social Security Agency. 

Harsimran Kaur, the Sikh Coalition legal director, said Maan Singh Khalsa was attacked near the Hilltop Mall at Blume and Hilltop Drive about 9 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 25. He told police that a white Ford F-150 with as many as six men pulled up and someone threw a beer can at him. When he turned toward Interstate 80 and stopped at a light, he said the suspects approached the car and grabbed him through the window.

Authorities said Chase Little, 31, of Beaumont, Texas, and Dustin Albarado, 35, of Louisiana, were arrested in connection with the incident on felony assault charges. The two posted bail and were released. The Contra Costa County district attorney's office has not yet said if it will pursue hate crime charges against the suspects.

"They started beating him in the face. They took a knife. His turban got knocked off. They ended up cutting off part of his hair. They said cut his f--ing hair,'" said Kaur, who says Khalsa received severe injuries.

Photos show him with a patch over one eye that is seen in another photo swollen shut. A third photo shows a blackened finger with stitches.

"He may need three root canals, his finger was severely cut by the knife," Kaur said. "It may need to be amputated. He got a black eye and other cuts and bruises."

The Sikh Center's leaders say emotionally, too, is the pain of having one's hair cut which violates Sikh beliefs.

"We are not supposed to cut our hairs ever. It's one of our five articles of faith," said Karanbir Singh, vice-president of the Sikh Center, who says the entire community is stunned.

"He is a very nice man, a very good man. He never fights with anybody," said Tarlok Singh, a Sikh Center member, who was surprised to see his fellow worshiper's injuries following the attack.

Khalsa called 911 during the assault and Richmond police arrested Little and Albarado. 

"My concern is they said 'cut his f---ing hair’. so I don't understand why someone would say that unless that they were they were specifically targeting a person," said Kaur, who added that Maan Singh Khalsa reported that there were other men in the truck who have not been arrested.

By KTVU reporter Jana Katsuyama.