(ELK GROVE, Calif.) — In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin earlier this month, a detective in California is raising the possibility that the murders of two Sikh men there last year may be connected to the Oak Creek massacre.
Detective Kevin Papineau of the Elk Grove Police Department has been investigating the shootings of two Sikh men on March 4, 2011. Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal routinely walked around their neighborhood, but on their stroll that day they were suddenly gunned down. Singh died at the scene. Atwal managed to hang on for six weeks in a local hospital before passing away.
After white supremacist gunman Wade Michael Page killed six Sikhs in the Oak Creek temple on Aug. 5, Papineau decided to alert the FBI about the possibility that the two incidents might be connected.
“Given the fact they’re Sikh, there’s that possibility,” Papineau told ABC News Friday. “I’ve been in contact with FBI agents to try to rule in or rule out any possible connection. They’re looking into it and we haven’t made any progress toward ruling it in or out yet.”
Both Singh and Atwal were in traditional Sikh dress at the time of the shootings. All Papineau knows at this point is the gunman was in a tan or gold pick-up truck.
“It’s unsolved,” he said. “It’s active, although the leads and tips to follow up on are kind of starting to run out.”
“We’re kind of stumped by it,” he added.
Authorities in Oak Creek do not believe that there is any connection between the two incidents.
“From what I know of the situation I find it very unlikely,” Oak Creek Police chief John Edwards told ABC. “They may be trying to connect it, but I don’t think there’s anything there.”
On Sunday Aug. 5 Page, a former Army veteran with ties to white supremacist groups, went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded numerous others at the temple. Page then took his own life after being shot by an officer.
In a tragic development this week, another member of the temple was killed in an attack at the grocery store he owned in Oak Creek. While he was locking up his Harmony Foods store late Wednesday night along with his cousin, Dalbir Singh was suddenly shot and killed. Milwaukee police do not believe the shooting at the store was connected to the temple massacre.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News