LA community traumatised by Indian American’s killing spree, offered counselling

October 8th, 2008 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Oct 8 (IANS) Traumatised by Indian American Karthick Rajaram shooting dead his family of five and then turning the gun on himself after becoming a pauper, residents of the upscale Los Angeles suburb they lived in and friends of the Rajaram children are being offered counselling at school and by telephone. Crisis counsellors were deployed Tuesday to help the friends and classmates of Rajaram’s two elder sons, the Los Angeles Times reported. They were sent to Alfred B. Nobel Middle School in Northridge, where Ganesha Rajaram, 12, was a seventh-grade honour student.

Counsellors were also being brought into the residence halls at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where Krishna Rajaram, 19, was majoring in business economics, Phil Hampton, a university spokesman, was quoted as saying.

Krishna’s classmates and friends remembered him Tuesday as a mentor and scholar who preferred to go home on weekends to spend time with his younger brothers than party on campus, media reports said.

“We asked him: ‘Why not stay a weekend because we might do something fun?’” said Ashwin Bhongir, Krishna’s roommate and childhood friend. “He said: ‘I want to be there for my brothers. I like to spend time with my brothers, it’s important’.”

Karthick Rajaram, 45, too had studied at UCLA, receiving his MBA from there in 1987, before going on to work in a financial holding company and for major accounting firms, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Other victims in the tragedy reported Monday were Karthik’s seven-year-old son Arjuna, 39-year-old wife Subasri, and her 69-year-old mother Indra Ramasesham.

Mental health authorities said the Porter Ranch community where the Rajarams lived, had suffered a triple blow from the deaths of a well-liked family, the economic downturn and the recent train crash in nearby Chatsworth that killed 25 people and injured 135, Los Angeles Times reported.

“The community is really hurting,” said Ken Kondo, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. “We want them to know it’s ok to ask for help. We know that there are tough times now, and we don’t want you to be alone.”

Since the shootings, counsellors at the department’s 24-hour helpline have fielded an increased numbers of calls requesting housing, job and financial advice, Kondo said. They have included a number of distressed individuals threatening to “do a Porter Ranch”.

Although investigations are going on into why Karthick Rajaram took the extreme step, authorities have hinted that he did so after seeing his finances wiped out by the stock market collapse.

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