Financial stress unlikely behind shooting of six Indians in US (Third lead)

March 31st, 2009 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington/Chennai, March 31 (IANS) US police investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, California that left six Indians dead and one critically injured, believe that financial distress may not have been the motive behind the crime.

Police are not releasing the names of the victims until confirming that the family has been notified and declined to discuss details of a possible motive.

“On the surface, financial stress does not appear to be a motive,” Lt. Phil Cooke of Santa Clara police was cited as saying by KTVU News.

Santa Clara police are working with the Indian consulate in San Francisco, which is providing assistance to investigators and helping to confirm identities of all the victims.

Media reports claimed that the victims were natives of Wayanad district in Kerala and identified them as Ayyankoli native Devarajan and his family members Suchitra, Ashokan, Akhil, Neha and Ahaana. Devarajan was an engineer at Yahoo and had worked with Microsoft before that, reports said.

A grief-stricken Appu Master, 80, told IANS in Chennai over phone from Ayyankollai village in Nilgiri district that the killer was his son-in-law Devarajan and only one of the six people he shot survived — Appu Master’s daughter Aabha.

“The family had moved to the US some 15 years ago. They were very close to each other. Only Aabha has survived,” Master said.

Devarajan and Ashokan were two Malayalam-speaking IT professionals.

Officers responded to the shooting at a town home at 4350 Headen Way at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday and found seven people had been shot.

Police said Monday night it appears a 42-year-old man shot and critically injured his 34-year-old wife, and killed their 4-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

The suspect also allegedly killed three of his wife’s relatives, a 35-year-old man, his 25-year-old wife and their 11-month-old daughter, Cooke said.

The suspect, who allegedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, had recently moved into the Headen Way home with his wife and their two children, Cooke said.

Evidence technicians were still working inside the house on Headen Way Monday, searching for evidence and answers. The home is part of the Rivermark development, and the area remained cordoned off for much of the day.

Located near the Sun Microsystems campus and the former Agnews mental hospital, Rivermark is home to young families and professionals, many of whom are immigrants working in the tech industry.

The suspect’s two children attended a private school in Sunnyvale, school officials confirmed Monday. The 4-year-old girl was enrolled in preschool at the Challenger School in Sunnyvale, Challenger CEO Barbara Baker said. Baker said the boy was in the fifth grade.

As the sun set Monday, bouquets of daffodils and carnations along with stuffed animals were placed under the yellow crime scene tape. Neighbours gathered on their stoops still wondering what had happened to their once-tranquil community, San Jose Mercury News said.

“It’s such a quiet neighbourhood. I don’t even hear anybody speaking in a loud voice,” said Amit Sinha, a software engineer. “And then there are 20 police with semi-automatic guns.”

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