indica News Bureau-
An Indian-origin man has been charged with killing four family members in a shooting rampage that sparked fears of anti-Sikh violence in Ohio.
Gurpreet Singh is charged with four counts of aggravated murder in the killings of his wife, her parents and her aunt in April, according to published reports.
Gurpreet Singh 39, his wife Shalinder Kaur, 39, her parents Hakikat Singh Panag, 59, and Paramjit Kaur, 62, and her aunt Amarjit Kaur, 58, were found shot dead in their West Chester, Ohio, apartment while food burned on the stove on April 28.
His two daughters, 11 and 9, and a son, 5, were not home at that time and were physically unharmed.
On Tuesday, West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog announced the arrest, calling the slayings a heinous crime, according to published reports. Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he may seek the death penalty.
The Branford, Conn. police department said in a Facebook statement on that West Chester, Ohio, Police had told them where Singh and a took him into custody Tuesday afternoon in a nearby Walmart parking lot.
On the day of the killings, Gurpreet Singh, a truck driver who was arrested in Connecticut, called 911, telling authorities he found the bodies.
Officials said soon after the killings that it wasn’t a hate crime. The case drew international attention and resulted in at least one vigil at which hundreds gathered to support Singh and members of the Sikh community.
Singh, speaking in a mix of Punjabi and English, told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I have no words. The trauma has been too much. It’s too hard to even think of all that has happened. My brain is not working.”
The four victims have shot a total of 18 times, according to reports citing police sources. Ajaib Singh, a brother of both Amarjit Kaur and Paramjit Kaur, told the Enquirer, “I am not surprised at Gurpreet’s arrest. I expected it. We knew there were disputes in the family and we expected fist fights or divorce but we never expected the whole family to be killed.”
“We trusted him, we treated him like a son. It’s painful to me, nobody deserves to die like this, nobody,” he said.
The Guru Nanak Society of Greater Cincinnati, the local Sikh Gurdwara temple, provided an outpouring of support for Singh.
Satinder Bharaj, past president of the gurdwara, told The Enquirer, “I hope the truth comes out, and we get an answer to the question of why this happened or had to happen.”
Authorities have not released further details of the case or the alleged motives. WLWT said that according to Amarjit Kaur 39, son Jasdeep Singh, a march was held in Punjab on Sunday to fight for justice for the victims. The TV station showed a clip of the protest but did not say where in the state it took place, according to published reports.
Because of previous attacks on Sikhs in the U.S. — most notably the 2012 killing of six people in a Wisconsin gurdwara – the Ohio incident sparked fears of a growing wave of anti-Sikh violence.