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Balbir Singh Sodhi

Balbir Singh Sodhi (1949September 15, 2001) was a Phoenix gas station owner who was murdered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He made headlines because his was the first of a total of eight murder 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 then he moved there.

On September 15, 2001, he was shot five times by a gunman and died instantly. Apparently, he had been confused with a person of Middle Eastern 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 Easteners or who dressed with clothes similar to those typically used by Middle Easteners.

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 (Roque has a history of schizophrenia and of hearing voices), jurors at Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced him to face the death penalty.

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