Four members of Sikh family found shot dead in Ohio home, officials rule out hate crime
India's minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said one victim was an Indian national on a visit to the US, while the others were of Indian origin.
Police are investigating the murder of four members of a well-respected Sikh family in Ohio, after they were discovered shot dead in their home in West Chester Township on Sunday. According to reports, a man, identified as the husband of one of the victims, called 911 on Sunday night to report that he arrived home to find his wife, both parents, and aunt bleeding on the floor of their apartment, Lakefront, on Wyndtree Drive.
Police on arrival found the four dead, as well as evidence that someone was preparing food there when they were killed, West Chester Township Police Chief Joel Herzog told reporters.
According to the police, there had been multiple gunshots fired and it did not look like a murder-suicide. A local Sikh leader, Jasminder Singh, identified the victims as 59-year-old Hakikat Singh Panag, his 62-year-old wife Paramjit Kaur, their daughter 39-year-old Shalinder Kaur and his sister-in-law 58-year-old Amarjit Kaur.
The West Chester Township police shared that they were interviewing witnesses and following up on leads to determine a motive, and it was reported that a dive team with Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation recovered a gun from a pond on Tuesday near the apartment complex where the murders happened. However, it is not clear whether the weapon was used in the slayings, Fox19Now reported.
Meanwhile, officials in Ohio as well as in India, where the family hailed from, have said the killings did not appear to be a hate crime. India's minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said one victim was an Indian national on a visit to the US, while the others were of Indian origin. "The matter is under investigation by the police but it is not a hate crime," she tweeted, citing information she received from India's ambassador to the US.
On Wednesday, township spokeswoman Barbara Wilson said that police have no reason to believe the killings were a hate crime.
The family members would worship at the Guru Nanak Society of Great Cincinnati weekly. Panag's son-in-law was the one who reported the shootings. The couple's three other children were not at home when the four family members were killed.
Jasminder Singh told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he had last spoken to Panag on Sunday morning at the temple.
Singh recalled Panag being happy. Another member of the Sikh community Satinder Bharaj shared that Panag had shifted to West Chester from New Jersey and described him as very friendly.
Earlier police chief Herzog gave a press conference on Monday and said that the shooting appeared 'isolated' and he does not believe that there is any danger to the community. He added that so far no person of interest had been identified. The family member who reported the shooting was interviewed by detectives but was not taken into custody.
On the 911 call, the man could be heard screaming, "Help, please help. They are bleeding."
Herzog revealed that the apartment was filled with smoke from food which was left cooking on the stove which suggests that the family were killed as they were preparing a meal.