An Indian woman in California is claiming that she was racially profiled after police arrived at her house and questioned her over a recent inquiry about buying ammunition at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
According to Sim Sangha, two officers visited her in her East Bay home last Friday and asked her about her trip to the store. She later learned that one of the employees at Dick’s called officers after her visit and said that she was acting suspiciously. Officers later apologized for the visit and said that the reaction may have been related to the recent shooting in San Bernardino, in which a couple with suspected ties to terrorism killed 14 people.
Sangha, a firearms instructor and aspiring police officer, said she was deeply upset by the incident.
“After dozens of questions and then after countless apologies from both officers, I was filled with a mixture of emotions. Anger, sadness, I felt violated, and I kept asking myself ‘what did I do wrong?’ Would this have happened if I didn’t look the way I do?” she wrote on Facebook.
Sangha later told NBC Bay Area that she suspects the clerks may have singled her out.
“I don’t know if it’s [because of] my skin color or that I’m Indian,” she said. “I’m not a Muslim, but even if I were, that’s no reason to call police to my home, instantly.”
Sangha had gone to the store last week to ask about purchasing .223 ammunition for her AR-15 rifle. She recalled that her encounter with the employees had been a pleasant one and she suspected nothing out of the ordinary.
“I went to the firearms section of the store and was greeted by three store clerks,” she wrote online. “I inquired about .223 ammunition prices/brands and was told that there was a deal on bulk ammunition. I asked if there was a limit on how much I could buy as there are sometimes limitations depending on availability. Because I am a firearms instructor, it’s always convenient to have ammunition readily available at home if my friends/family wants [sic] to go to the shooting range. One of the clerks told me there were no limitations.”
After asking about the ammunition, Sangha purchased an elevation fitness mask with her credit card and left. Sangha said that her friends have bought ammo in bulk at that store without incident. However, two days after going to Dick’s, Sangha said officers knocked on her door.
“The officers explained that employees at Dick’s Sporting Goods had contacted the police department and reported me as a ‘suspicious’ customer because I wanted to purchase ammunition,” Sangha stated. “He also told me that this was a reaction to the San Bernardino incident. I explained why I was inquiring about ammunition and provided the officers with all qualifications and credentials as a firearms instructor including US Department of Justice Firearms Safety Instructor Certification and the National Rifle Association Certified Firearms Instructor card.
“I also explained that my passion for shooting came from being involved in law enforcement, starting as a Union City Police Explorer when I was 14 years old, and through the present as I am now in the hiring process for both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Fremont Police Department.”
The Fremont Police Department told local media that it was the duty of its officers to investigate calls about suspicious activity. Police spokespeople stated that the department is currently on heightened alert due to the shooting in San Bernardino, but do not have a defined policy in place to increase vigilance against possible acts of terrorism. Police spokespeople also added that the officers apologized to Sangha before leaving.
You can watch a brief interview with Sangha below:
Note: This article has been edited to indicate that Sangha purchased an item at the Dick’s store.