A West Chester, Ohio, truck driver was arrested July 2 and charged with four counts of aggravated murder for allegedly killing his wife and in-laws.
Indian American Gurpreet Singh, 37, is being held in jail in Branford, Connecticut, where he was staying at the time of his arrest. He is in custody and is awaiting extradition back to West Chester.
In a press statement, Branford police said they had located Singh, who was staying at a residence in town, and arrested him in the parking lot of a local Walmart.
On the evening of April 28, Singh called 911 to say he had found four members of his family lying on the floor of his apartment, bleeding to death. He 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.”
Police noted that Singh called for help from the neighbors as he was making the call to 911. The local Sikh American community provided a lot of support to the widowed man after the shootings and told local media that at least two of the victims were active members of the temple.
The coroner’s office declared all four deaths as homicides, and noted that 18 bullet wounds had been found on the four bodies. Former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the police investigation did not turn up evidence of a hate crime.
The four victims were Singh’s wife Shalinderjit Kaur, her parents Amarjit Kaur and Hakikat Singh Panag, and her sister Paramjit Kaur. Food was burning on the stove when police arrived to investigate.
At a July 2 press briefing, West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog said: “This is a heinous crime that has impacted the entire West Chester community, particularly the Sikh community.”
He thanked the local Sikh community for its help in finding the suspect. “They have been very helpful and provided the lead that led to the arrest,” he said, noting that multiple agencies have been involved in finding a suspect, including the FBI and several local law enforcement agencies.
Singh was arrested without incident in Branford, said Herzog. He gave no motive for the crime.
Singh and his wife had two children, who are safe, Herzog told reporters at the briefing, adding also that the community at large is in no danger.
The police chief did not state whether law enforcement is looking for additional suspects.
Butler County, Ohio, Chief Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told reporters at the briefing that the case will be presented to a grand jury once Singh is extradited. He disputed media reports that said he was seeking the death penalty, adding that the grand jury would make that decision.
Gmoser did add that the crime fits the definition of a capital murder case, since Singh is charged with killing more than two people.
“There will be a day of reckoning,” he said.
The Associated Press reports: Singh appeared July 3 in New Haven Superior Court, where a judge ordered him detained without bail. A message seeking comment was left for a public defender who briefly represented Singh.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Singh would be brought to Ohio.
Family relatives stated they are praying for Singh’s conviction.
Ajaib Singh identified himself as the brother of two of the victims and said the family was thankful for the efforts of West Chester police, other law enforcement agencies and the Sikh community of the Cincinnati region.
(See earlier India-West story here: https://bit.ly/2PHpSQD)