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Balbir Singh Sodhi lived in Mesa, Arizona. He owned a gas station. He was born in Punjab, India. He was part of the Sikh religion, which often wears turbans; which many people stereotypically assign to Muslims or people from the Middle East. Sodhi had immigrated to Los Angeles in 1989. There he worked as a taxi driver. He was eventually relocated to San Francisco, where he earned enough money to bus a gas station in Phoenix. That was where tragedy struck.

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On September 15, 2001; four days after 9/11, he was shot 5 times by a gunman. The man had no other reason, but that Balbir had looked Middle Eastern. It was the first of many cases of post 9/11 backlash. Later, on September 30, 2003; Frank Roque was convicted of first degree murder, the Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced him to the death penalty. But, in 2006, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the decision for life in prison.