Salem police arrest man for hate crime involving a Sikh store owner

Police arrested Andrew Ramsey, accusing him of attacking the owner of 12th Street Market, who is a Sikh, because of the owner's ethnic background. (Photo: KATU News. Inset: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Police are investigating a hate crime at a Salem corner store.

Officers responded to a disturbance outside 12th Street Market on Monday night. They say a man got kicked out of the store, and then proceeded to spit and fight the owner -- who is a Sikh -- even tearing off his turban.

Justin Brecht stopped by the store after work shortly before the brawl.

"The guy ran up to the store owner. He grabbed him by the beard and started punching him, threw him to the ground and started kicking him," said Brecht.

Brecht, a Marine Corps veteran, and a couple of other bystanders jumped in and held the man down until police arrived.

Police identified the man as Andrew Ramsey.

Officers say he was acting erratically and appeared to be in a manic state when he fought with the store owner.

"We believe it had to do with the worker's ethnic background and possible religious beliefs," said Lt. Treven Upkes of the Salem Police Department.

The store owner told KATU News off camera that Ramsey tried to buy cigarettes but didn't have an ID on him, so the store owner refused him service.

He says Ramsey got angry and fought him.

The owner got several cuts on his arms and hands and a big scrape on his elbow, but says he will be OK. The owner says he has dealt with discrimination before at his store, and with people telling him to go back to his country. But he says this is the first time it became violent.

"That is something I certainly hate to see in Salem, and it doesn't belong here; there's no place for that kind of behavior here," said Brecht.

Ramsey was lodged at the Marion County Correctional Facility on the following charges: Assault IV, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Trespass II, and Intimidation II.

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