By Kim Minugh
The man killed in this morning's double shooting found himself in the midst of turmoil in recent years, as he fought a federal drug trafficking case while authorities tried to track down his fugitive son in connection with a 2008 homicide, The Bee has learned.
However, police will not say whether they believe either of those cases is connected to today's events.
Balbir Singh Dhami and his wife were gunned down inside their Marla Way home in North Laguna Creek shortly after 10 a.m. Dhami was pronounced dead at the scene; his wife, who has not yet been identified, is in critical condition.
Early in 2008, Dhami was among six defendants accused in a drug trafficking case, according to federal court documents. He was accused of conspiracy, and ultimately found guilty, records show. However, there is nothing to suggest he was ever sentenced in the case.
Later in 2008, authorities accused Dhami's son, Amandeep Singh Dhami, as being a gunman in a fatal shooting at a sports tournament on Bradshaw Road, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the case. Parmit Singh Pamma, 26, was killed in the melee.
At the time of the fatal shooting, Amandeep Dhami was a felon on probation for a weapons-related charge. He fled the country, and is now believed to be in India.
Sacramento County sheriff's deputies arrested Balbir Dhami and three of his relatives a month after the shooting for allegedly helping Amandeep Dhami flee authorities.
The District Attorney's office ultimately dismissed the accessory charges against all four family members.
The second suspect in the shooting, Gurpreet Singh Gosal, was held by members of the crowd, some wielding cricket bats and hockey sticks, until authorities arrived. Gosal is scheduled to go to trial in July on charges of murder and attempted murder, according to Sacramento Superior Court records.
Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong said he could not comment on whether detectives believe today's double shooting is connected to Amandeep Dhami's alleged involvement in the 2008 homicide or Balbir Dhami's drug case.
He added that detectives are looking at a variety of potential motives - except for the idea that this is a hate crime. Leong said the preliminary investigation shows no indication the victims' race or religion was a motivating factor.
Police are still searching for the gunman, who was described as a short dark-skinned man wearing a yellow sweatshirt. He is believed to be driving a yellow or gold American-made car, said police spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck. Earlier, police described him as a black man.
Authorities have not officially released the names of the victims. However, a friend of the family who arrived at the scene, John Singh Gill, identified the man as Balbir Singh Dhami. Property records show Dhami owned the house where the shooting occurred.
Police confirmed the victims are married and that they are Punjabi Indians. Gill said the family is Sikh, and that Dhami was active in the local Sikh community several years ago.
Leong confirmed that police have been called to the residence before, but declined to say how many times or why, citing the ongoing investigation.
Gill said he had no idea why anyone would want to hurt Dhami, who he described as a good man and a long-time friend. Gill said Dhami owned a truck stop on Stockton Boulevard.
Gill encouraged anybody with information about the suspect's whereabouts to contact police.
"Whoever that is, should pay for the crime," Gill said. "It's very sad, very tragic."
Bee researcher Sheila A. Kern contributed to this report.
PHOTO CAPTION: Police officers stand outside a home in the North Laguna Creek area where a shooting occurred Thursday morning. (Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.)
KCRA: Man gunned down in home - May 19, 2011