FRESNO (AP) — A Central California man is facing charges of attempted murder and elder abuse in connection with the beating of an 82-year-old Sikh man outside a Sikh temple in Fresno.
Sonia De La Rosa, a spokeswoman for the Fresno County district attorney, says 29-year-old Gilbert Garcia, Jr. was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Investigators say Garcia, whom they describe as a transient, attacked and beat Piara Singh with a pipe outside the Nanaksar Sikh Temple around 7 a.m. Sunday. Singh was hospitalized with head wounds, broken bones and ribs.
Fresno police officials say the attack was being investigated as a possible hate crime, though prosecutors have not filed any hate crime charges so far.
Civil rights groups say Sikh men — who wear beards and turbans as part of their faith — are sometimes mistaken for Muslims and targeted in bias-motivated attacks.