iowa suicide

Chandrasekhar Sunkara was found dead with gunshot wounds along with three of his family members June 15. (Facebook photo)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Police investigating the shooting deaths of four Indian American family members in a Des Moines suburb are classifying three of the deaths as homicides and one as a suicide.

West Des Moines police said June 17 that autopsies showed 44-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara’s death was a suicide. The deaths of his wife, 41-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, and two of their children, boys aged 15 and 10, were homicides.

Other family members who were staying as guests at the home discovered the bodies June 15.

Police didn’t release details about the deaths and haven’t named the boys who were killed.

Real estate records indicate the family had owned the home since March.

West Des Moines police Sgt. Dan Wade said there was no threat to the community and that investigators were trying to determine exactly what happened. Police said the relatives who discovered the bodies — also two adults and two children — had been staying with the family as guests.

West Des Moines police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation were investigating.

"This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family," Wade said. "We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows."

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Chandrasekhar Sunkara worked for the department’s information technology unit for 11 years. He was not a sworn officer.

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