NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are looking for a suspect who attacked a member of the Sikh community with a hammer.
The attack happened Monday in the lobby of Brooklyn Hotel.
A man started screaming at operations manager Sumit Ahluwalia. The 32-year-old said the man first spit in his face, and then bashed him in the head with a hammer.
He said he believes he was targeted because of his turban.
“I came moving back and said, ‘Hey brother, what happened?’ He said, ‘You’re not my brother. You’re not the same skin. I don’t like you,'” Ahluwalia said.
Police have released images of the suspect.
The Sikh community wants the assault investigated as a hate crime.
“Do you think you were targeted?” CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon asked.
“I was the only turban guy who was there,” Ahluwalia said.
The attack left Ahluwalia, a father of two who immigrated from India three years ago, completely shaken.
“Now I’m scared somehow… Now when I’m going to work, when I’m walking, I have some fear, like maybe someone is coming,” he said. “Everyone comes to this country with new hope, but now there’s something, other feeling in the mind, like why, I didn’t say anything, why did this happen to me?”
Anyone who has information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477 or for Spanish, 1-888-577-4782. Tips can also be sent to the NYPDTips Twitter account or submitted online at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.
On Saturday, members of the South Asian and Sikh community were joined by politicians to speak out against anti-Asian hate.
“Such a tragedy that one of the kindest, most giving groups of people is also one of the greatest targets,” said New York Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar.
As of last week, there have been 68 anti-Asian hate crimes in the city, compared to 15 during the same period last year.
Ahluwalia said he came to the U.S. with a heart full of hope and just wants to belong.
“People should know that these turban guys, they are here to help. We are not here to harm anyone,” he said. “We are also here struggling, doing a job ourselves. Wake up in the morning 6 a.m., go home 7, 9 sometimes, and we don’t deserve this.”
Ahluwalia suffered minor injuries to his head which caused internal bleeding. He believes his turban prevented the injuries from being more severe.