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USA Second Sikh Shooting Victim In Sacramento Suburb Has Died


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Second Sikh shooting victim in Sacramento suburb has died [updated]

The second of two Sikh men gunned down on their afternoon walk in Elk Grove, Calif., last month has died, members of the Sacramento-area Sikh community said Friday.

Gurmej Atwal, 78, died about 2 p.m. Friday, said Darshan Mundy, a spokesman for the Sacramento Sikh Temple.

“It’s so sad, so sad,” said Mundy, who helped organize an American Sikh Day on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday at the urging of state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Atwal and Surinder Singh, 65, were strolling near their Elk Grove homes when they were shot, police said. Singh died at the scene. No arrests have been made and no motive has been established.

The victims were not robbed and had no enemies, family members say. However, they wore traditional Sikh turbans and thick beards, leading police and community leaders to speculate that the attack was a hate crime.
The assault on Singh and Atwal came just months after a Sikh cabdriver was attacked in West Sacramento by two men who yelled anti-Muslim slurs. The suspects in that case have been arrested and charged.

In the last six weeks, lawmakers and members of many faiths have spoken loudly against the shooting of Atwal and Singh, and contributed to a reward fund that has reached $50,000. About 1,000 Sikhs joined Sacramento lawmakers and interfaith leaders Wednesday at the Capitol to celebrate California's Sikhs community and to educate the public about their faith.

Atwal came to California about a decade ago to live with his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, his son, Kamaljit Atwal, said last week. He kept in good health and walked as much as eight miles a day, earning him the family nickname “walking man.”

“It’s a horrible shock,” Sikh community leader Amar Shergill, who has acted as a spokesman for the families, said Friday of the death. “Although we were hoping he would overcome the injury, the doctors had told us that he was in danger. It’s important for all of us now to rely on our faith as a community and as families to make it through this difficult time.”

[Updated, 5:50 p.m.: "I am deeply saddened to hear that Gurmej Atwal has succumbed to his wounds. My prayers are with his family and the entire Sikh community," said Steinberg, the state senator. "His death compounds an already horrible crime which has outraged us all, and I know the Elk Grove police are working long hours to bring the unknown perpetraor or perpetrators to justice."]



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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Many of us, Harwinder ji, are praying that your community finds solace and regains a sense of emotional and physical safety. The story, as it unwinds, is so upsetting, too much so. So many people, officials and organizations are standing behind you and the victims' families. The reward has increased steadily. None of that will bring back these wonderful Singhs. None of that will return a sense that the world is fair. So please accept my condolences and prayers on behalf of everyone whose life has changed because of this.

Mai Harinder Kaur

Oct 5, 2006
British Columbia, Canada
I hope these guys are found. I live in this community and it is sad to see how history yet once agian has not remained history. For it tends to repaet in the sense on racial profiling.

Harwinder ji,

This community is all our community. We are all in this together. We all share in the grief and outrage and pain. I really cannot adequately express my feelings. These dear old Singhs, worthy of our love and respect, gunned down like beer cans used as target practice by, I'm sorry, all the nouns I can think of to describe the shooters expose my own prejudices. I have a mental picture of the murderers that may be entirely inaccurate (but I bet it's not).

How do we combat these narrow-minded, violent people? I don't know. I know we mustn't succumb to anger and hated; we must remain calm and composed in spite of our grief and show ourselves to be civilised human beings, good citizens. We must try to be Sikhs that our Gurus would be proud of. We must teach by words and example who we are and who we are supposed to be.

We must find those who did this evil deed. They must be tried and convicted. We must not give in to negativity. No fear. No hatred. It's so very difficult.



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