Indian family murder-suicide in US: Family problems suspected

April 1st, 2009 - 10:13 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 1 (IANS) US police has ruled out financial problems as the motive behind the apparent murder-suicide of six Indians in California, suggesting the crime was likely related to “family dynamics and personal relationships.”

Santa Clara, California police Tuesday identified the victims and alleged gunman in the grisly murder-suicide Sunday night and provided a glimpse into the family situation that spiralled into violence and claimed six lives.

Police were called to a town home at 4350 Headen Way around 8:30 p.m. Sunday after a woman stumbled bleeding from the home and asked a neighbour to call for help, saying her husband had shot her and that other victims were inside.

Six people, including the alleged gunman, were found shot in the home’s kitchen and dining room area. All six died of their injuries, and the woman remains hospitalised in critical condition.

Police Lt. Phil Cooke Tuesday identified the alleged gunman as 42-year-old Devan Kalathat, also known as Raghavan Devarajan, according to KTVU News. Police did not identify the only survivor, Kalathat’s 34-year-old wife, who was shot several times. But relatives identified the wife as Abha Deverajan.

Kalathat is believed to have shot and injured his wife, whose name has not been released, and killed the couple’s son and daughter, 11-year-old Akhil Dev and 4-year-old Negha Dev.

He also shot and killed his brother-in-law, Ashok Appu Poothemkandi, 35; Poothemkandi’s wife, 25-year-old Suchitra Sivaraman; and the couple’s 11-month-old daughter Ahana Ashok, Cooke said.

Kalathat shot his family members with two .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols he had bought recently. Both guns were purchased legally, one in February and one about two weeks ago, Cooke said.

Police are still investigating the motive but Cooke said the murders didn’t appear to be rooted in financial problems and that the motive was likely related to “family dynamics and personal relationships.”

Kalathat worked in information technology at Yahoo and there was no reason to believe his job was in jeopardy, Cooke said.

Kalathat and his wife had just moved to the town home, which is part of the Rivermark development, from Sunnyvale, where their son and daughter were enrolled in fifth grade and preschool at the Challenger School.

The wife’s brother, Poothemkandi, and his family were visiting from India and Poothemkandi was looking for work, Cooke said.

Meanwhile, Geeta George, the president of 700-member Malayalee Association of Northern California (MANCA), said she was trying to raise money to send the bodies home to India. Information can be found on

In Santa Clara, the Rivermark neighbors didn’t know the family well. But some pitched in to help when they heard the sounds of children crying Sunday night, Mercury News said.

One of those neighbors was Sergei Severin, who along with another neighbour, helped the wife of the shooter who had run outside her home.

They debated about moving her because when they lifted her arm, she moaned loudly. They decided to leave her be until police arrived minutes later. By then Severin had placed sheets under the bleeding woman’s head.

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