A Florida man was shot in the face twice with a pellet gun during the early hours of Wednesday morning after being confronted by another man in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Lutz, near Tampa Bay.
The shooter allegedly asked his victim, “Are you of Middle Eastern descent?” and “Are you Muslim?” before shouting a racial slur and opening fire.
Police told a reporter with MyFox Tampa Bay that the suspect is still at large, and that they are investigating the incident as a hate crime. The shooter is described as a white male between 18 and 30 with short blond hair, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing about 180 pounds.
Approximately 20 shots were fired from the weapon, although only two landed. The victim was reportedly treated at the scene and released without serious injury.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who turns over information leading to the man’s arrest.
“We urge the FBI to investigate this case because it seems to fit a disturbing pattern of recent incidents targeting Muslims in Florida and nationwide,” CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly said in an advisory.
This video is from Fox 13 News in Tampa Bay, published Wednesday, January 2, 2012.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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