Local Uber driver says rider held a gun to his head during apparent “hate crime”

UBER phone app (Tribune Media)

MOLINE, Illinois – A Quad Cities Uber driver says a passenger put a gun to his head after telling him “I hate turban people” on Sunday, January 28.

The driver, Gurjeet Singh, wears a religiously mandated Sikh turban and beard.

According to Singh’s lawyers, Singh picked up a white man at 10:39 p.m. on Jan. 28 in the alley next to Casey’s Tavern in Moline, Ill.

During the trip, the man began to question Singh, a legal U.S. resident, about his origins.

“Do you serve our country or do you serve your country?” the man reportedly asked. “What is your status here?”

Singh, confused by the questions, began to share that he serves both countries because his parents live in India.

That’s when the passenger reportedly got “visibly angry and put a gun to Mr. Singh’s head,” said Singh’s lawyer. “I hate turban people,” said the passenger.

A suspect has been interviewed, and a search warrant of his home has been ordered.

An official with the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department said no charges have been filed, because the investigation is ongoing. Police say Singh did not file a report until the day after the incident occurred.

Police say that while they hear the concerns of the Sikh community “loud and clear,” they must follow the law and gather information to resolve the case.

However, Singh’s lawyers say they are concerned the incident isn’t getting serious enough attention.

“As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that this investigation is about as straightforward as it gets,” lawyer Amrith Kaur wrote in a release sent to WQAD, calling the threat to Singh a hate crime. “We know this man has a gun, hates people with turbans and beards, and threatened to take our client’s life. Thanks to Uber’s smartphone application we know his identity. Nobody deserves to experience hate violence, and he should be arrested immediately.”

The sheriff’s  department is working with Uber, a spokesperson said.

An Uber spokesperson tells WQAD that the rider in question has been restricted from using the app.

“Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination on the app and we have reached out to the driver-partner to offer our support. We have removed the rider’s access to Uber and will continue to provide any information to police that would be helpful for their investigation,” said Kayla Whaling, Uber spokesperson.

She says the safety of driver-partners and riders is a top priority for the company.

“If any incidents are reported, we do everything we can to support local authorities with their investigation.”