$20,000 Reward offered in murder of turban-wearing elder Sikh in Northern California

Ritu Jha-


“We are very angry and so our community,” said Harnek Singh Kang, son-in-law of 64-year-old Parmjit Singh, a Sikh who was brutally murdered the evening of Aug. 25 at the Gretchen Talley Park in Tracy, California, about 60 miles east of San Francisco. “The monster slit his throat,” Kang told indica in a phone interview. “We need that monster to be caught as soon as possible.”

Kang, who has also announced a $20,000 reward Thursday, Aug.29, added that the family and community are hopeful that the police joined by the FBI will catch the killer.

Singh — who is survived by a wife, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren – used to work full time in a Ghirardelli factory outlet in Tracy but because of low production at the candy-maker, he was off from work on Sunday.

Kang, 40, said he believes that even though 911 and ambulance reached the horrific scene quickly that suspect cut Singh’s throat and the victim he could not recover from the heavy bleeding. “We are in shock and wonder why would a person kill such a nice person.”

Singh used to visit the church, temple, Gurdwara everywhere, and even the day the incident happened he stopped for tea in the neighborhood and told his family would return in time for dinner.

A native from Punjab, India, Singh migrated to the US three years ago. He used to walk two miles each day, and he wanted to go for a walk the night he was killed.

“We told him it’s getting dark, but he said would be back soon,” Kang said. “The surveillance camera shows at 8:35 he is walking fast, and he walked two to three meters and someone saw him falling and called police around 8:55 p.m. He passed away around 9:05 p.m.

According to the Tracy Police Department, on Sunday, August 25th at 9:05 p.m., Tracy Police officers responded to a report of a person bleeding on Dove Drive, near Egret Drive, in front of Gretchen Talley Park in Tracy.

Officers arrived a few minutes later to find the victim, Singh, in the roadway suffering a traumatic injury. Singh died at the scene.

The Tracy Police Department is actively investigating the death as a homicide but does not yet believe it’s a hate crime.

The incident has moved the Sikh community, and to calm the situation the Tracy city and police officials met with community members to provide an update on the investigation, offer support and address concerns raised about safety and lighting in city parks.

“We take pride in our safe, close-knit community,” Mayor Robert Rickman said in a news media release. “The loss of one of our own to violence has shaken us to our core and is felt by the entire community. On behalf of the Tracy City Council, we offer our sincerest condolences to Mr. Singh’s family, friends and to the members of our Sikh community. This violence will not be tolerated, and we are dedicating every available resource to ensuring that the person(s) responsible for the death of Mr. Singh is brought to justice.”

Kang, who lived with Singh, is keeping in contact with law enforcement authorities to monitor their progress.

“They are still looking for the male who stabbed Singh’s throat,” said Kang. “The Tracy Police Department has released a video of a person seen in the area of Gretchen Talley Park, the suspect looks like a white male.”

Reacting to the killing of Singh, Amar Shergill, community leader and the first South Asian-American to lead the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, told indica he attended the candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Aug. 28.

“A possible hate-crime motive should be addressed in the investigation, but we cannot call it a hate crime without more information,” Shergill said. “Law enforcement has not advised of any evidence regarding the motivations of the murder. However, any time a turban-wearing Sikh is murdered, hate-crime motivation must be considered, particularly in the case of an elder walking in his own neighborhood. Our community has seen too many deaths due to hate to ignore that as a real possibility.  I pray that the family finds peace and that there is justice for the killer.”

However, recalling the homicides of seniors, he said, in 2011, two Sikh elders were murdered in Elk Grove under similar circumstances during their regular walk.  The death of Parmjit Singh, while proudly wearing his dastar (turban) as a symbol of his faith, is an attack against all of us. “

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