Richard Lloyd, 64, of Port St. Lucie, Fl, is in custody tonight after he tried to burn down a store he believed to be Muslim owned. Police say Lloyd expressed anger at “Arabs” and wants to “run them out of the country.” Lloyd admitted setting the fire to “[do] his part for America.”
A determination will be made whether or not Lloyd will be charged with a hate crime, following a mental health evaluation. The store’s owners are not Muslim but are of Indian descent.
Indian Americans have been increasingly targeted for racist attacks. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer, was shot to death last month while at a Kansas bar. The shooter, Adam W. Purinton, believed Kuchibhotla was an Iranian Muslim and yelled, “terrorist!” during the shooting. A friend of Kuchibhotla and another man who intervened were also shot, but are expected to recover. A few days later, another Indian man, Deep Rai, was shot at his home in Kent, Washington, while the attacker yelled: “Go back to your country!”
The news cycle in India is being dominated with coverage of what’s being described as a wave of anti-Indian sentiment sweeping the United States.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s widow wrote in a Facebook post: “Do we belong? Is this the same country we dreamed of and is it still secure to raise our families and children here?”