The Sikh community in Federal Way is still reeling from an attack on the city's Khalsa Gurmat Center in September, but there is new hope in finding the person responsible.
“As someone who holds the center dear to their heart, because it was put together by children and parents over the last few years, it was really, really disheartening,” said Dr. Jasmit Singh, who is a member of the center.
Surveillance video shows someone breaking in and ransacking the building. Singh said the harm done was more than just financial and the recovery will be deeper than replacing a few stolen items.
“The things that they damaged may not have been as expensive, but were extremely precious from a religious aspect,” Singh said. “It was almost like an altar for a church that they broke down.”
Singh also said the attack has taken away the community's sense of safety and he's worried the incident could be more than a simple break-in.
“They completely smashed the panels for the fire suppressant system, so you look at that and say burglary doesn’t seem to be the main motivation,” Singh said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has stepped in to help solve the case. The FBI sent Federal Way police a photo taken from the surveillance video that provides a clearer look at the suspect's face and clothes.
Although Federal Way police and the FBI haven’t found overt evidence that supports this crime was motivated by bias, the images sent by the FBI will be distributed throughout the region to help identify the suspect, officials said.
The Sikh Coalition said it's important incidents like what happened at the Khalsa Gurmat Center don't get swept under the rug, because if no one is held accountable, it could send an unspoken message that it's acceptable, and could continue.
“It’s going to take a village to piece this together,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, legal director for the Sikh Coalition. “Often, with groups that often have to deal with it, don’t get the acknowledgment that leads to justice, whatever justice means to that group of people. And until somebody is identified, there’s really no justice.”
While the community waits for the culprit to be identified and held accountable, Singh had a message for the center's attacker.
“You make us more stronger," Singh said. "We would welcome you to come back sit down with us, talk with us, have a conversation with us, break bread together. But we are here to stay."