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Balbir Singh Sodhi: Wikis


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Balbir Singh Sodhi
Born 1949
Punjab, India
Died September 15, 2001
Residence Mesa, Arizona, United States
Nationality American
Ethnicity East Indian
Citizenship United States
Religious beliefs Sikh

Balbir Singh Sodhi (1949–September 15, 2001) was a Mesa, Arizona, gas station owner who was murdered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He made headlines because he was the first of several cases across the United States that were reported to the police as acts of retaliation for the terrorist attacks. According to family members, Singh Sodhi had been distraught because of the terrorist attacks.

Born in Punjab, India, he was a member of the Sikh religion. He moved to Los Angeles in 1989, where he worked as a taxi driver. He later relocated to San Francisco, where he continued to work in that capacity. He saved enough money to buy a gas station in Phoenix and moved there.

On September 15, 2001, Frank Roque shot him five times, killing him instantly. Roque, who apparently wanted revenge for September 11, confused him for a person of Arab ethnicity because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners.

On August 4, 2002, less than a year after Balbir's death, his younger brother Sukhpal was shot to death while driving his taxicab in San Francisco, apparently killed by a stray bullet from a nearby gang fight. In response to this second tragedy, Balbir's son, Sukhwinder said, "What are you going to do with anger? We like peace and we are a peaceful people." [1].

On September 30, 2003, Frank Roque, age 44, was convicted of first-degree murder in the Singh case. On October 10, dismissing defense claims of diminished mental responsibility, jurors at Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced him to face the death penalty. In August 2006, Arizona Supreme Court overturned Roque's death sentence in return for a sentence of life in prison.[2]

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