California Man Wanted for 1996 Murder Kills Family, Self
(SELMA, Calif.) — A Selma, Calif., man wanted for murder in India killed his wife and two of his children before turning the gun on himself this morning, police said.
Police got a 911 call at 6 o’clock Saturday morning from a man who said he’d killed four people and was about to commit suicide, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers arrived at the home of Avtar Singh, but there was no answer at the door, according to a statement from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. The SWAT team evacuated nearby houses and used a robot to determine there were five victims in the house.
A man police believe to be Singh was found dead in the living room, the statement said. Law enforcement found Singh’s wife and 3-year-old son in bed in the master bedroom, and his 15-year-old son in a rear bedroom. They all had gunshot wounds to the head and had died.
The SWAT team heard sounds coming from another bedroom and found Singh’s eldest son “barely alive” and suffering from “severe head trauma,” according to the release. They administered first aid and took him to the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for surgery. His condition was not immediately available.
When Selma Police responded to a domestic violence call last year, they learned Singh was wanted on an Interpol hold for the murder of human rights activist Jalil Andrabi, according ABC Affiliate KFSN in Fresno. The State Department told police it wasn’t necessary to hold him, and he bailed out.
He told KFSN that he had thrown a toy at his wife, and the domestic violence issue was dropped. Singh, an Indian Army captain, also said he was a scapegoat in the murder, and feared his blown cover would mean danger from al Qaeda.
Next door neighbor Barbara Childers, 76, told ABC News that she was “devastated” by the murder-suicide. She said she thought Singh had settled the murder accusations. He’d told her he had to “kill the person or get killed,” but she was confused about the details.
“You couldn’t ask for better neighbors,” Childers said. “I just couldn’t believe that that happened.”
She said Singh had just fertilized her lawn, and his sons often cut her grass for her.
“They just did things like that. They didn’t want to take money.” she said. “The young boys were just as polite as could be.”
Childers said her brother overheard Singh scolding his 3-year-old Friday night, but it struck her as odd because Singh “adored” his son.
“We couldn’t understand why he was cussing at him because he was the apple of his eye,” Childers said.
She said she heard gunshots when her brother picked her up for the evacuation, but the block was eerily quiet before that.
“I felt like I was in ‘Twilight Zone,'” she said.
Neighbor Josh Gonzalez, 17, said the Singh boys occasionally played basketball with him, but their relationship was made up mostly of polite waves from across the street. He said he watched from his house as the SWAT team fired shots into a window and used smoke grenades before entering the Singh home.
“I was just worried because I really didn’t know what was going on,” Gonzalez said. “It was kind of scary because they had their guns out. We never had this happen in our neighborhood, something tragic like that.”
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