PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Muslim civil rights group is asking the Justice Department to investigate the shooting of a Pittsburgh taxi driver.
The driver was shot Thanksgiving night in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wants the Justice Department to investigate the case as a hate crime.
According to reports, the 38-year-old driver picked up the man outside the Rivers Casino about 1 a.m. Thursday.
The driver says the man began asking about ISIS and his background, asking whether he was “a Pakistani guy,” and also mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
When the taxi arrived at the man’s home, the suspect reportedly went inside because he told the driver he forgot his wallet. A few minutes later, police say the man allegedly emerged from the house carrying a rifle.
When the Muslim driver saw the weapon, he sped away, only to hear gunshots. One of the shots shattered the back window of his taxi and struck him in the upper back.
The Muslim driver, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, was able to flag down a passing car and have someone call the police.
“I think we need to take every incident like this seriously,” said Corey O’Connor, Pittsburgh City Council Member for District Five. He added, “Regardless of who you are if you’re in the city of Pittsburgh, we want you to be protected and safe.”
CAIR has been in contact with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to ask that the alleged biased motive for the shooting be investigated.
CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper told KDKA-TV’s Bob Allen via Skype that there’s been a noticeable increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since the Paris terrorist attacks.
“We’ve seen attacks on mosques, we’ve seen attacks on American-Muslim individuals,” Hooper said, “and we see this as seemingly part of the spike in hate crimes.”
“We understand that groups want us to go to the Department of Justice, which this case may end up there, ultimately,” said O’Connor, “but I think we have to do our on-site investigations first. There’s cameras in the casino, we were told there’s cameras in the taxicab, so there are ways to track and identify who this criminal was.”
Pittsburgh Police are continuing their investigation.
“The potential that this could be a hate crime is under consideration,” Pittsburgh Police spokesperson Sonya Toler said. “Our investigators are following various leads at this time, and hopefully we will be able to bring this to a resolution very quickly.”
Meanwhile, the FBI has also been made aware of the case.
The Moroccan immigrant has not been identified out of fear of his safety, since the shooter still hasn’t been caught.