Sacto 9-1-1
February 8, 2012
Elk Grove police provide new vehicle description in homicide of 2 Sikh men

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Elk Grove police updated the description of the suspect vehicle in a double-homicide of two elderly Sikh men shot last year when they were out for their routine afternoon walk.

Suspect Vehicle New.jpgAt a press conference this afternoon, police officials said the suspect drove a lifted full-size pick-up truck, tan or gold in color, with a standard-size cab, similar to the one pictured at left. They do not have details on the make or model year of the truck.

Speaking from the Elk Grove City Council Chambers, officials pleaded with the public to continue calling the department with tips or leads.

"No tip is too small," said Elk Grove Mayor Jim Cooper. "Make no mistake, this was a cowardly act."

Gurmej Atwal, 78, and Surinder Singh, 65, were shot March 4 as they walked on East Stockton Boulevard near Geneva Pointe Drive. Singh died at the scene; Atwal died six weeks later in a hospital.

Elk Grove police stopped short of officially calling the shooting a hate crime, but have raised the possibility the men were killed because they were Sikh, a religion whose members have been mistaken for Muslims - and targeted because of it - since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Both men had thick beards and wore turbans, which is customary for Sikh men.

Members of both victims' families were on hand today for the press conference joining other members of the city council, Elk Grove police officials and representatives of Crime Alert.

Early in the investigation, police indicated it would be a difficult case because they had no apparent witnesses and no obvious indicators in their victims' lives of a motive.

They hoped to interview Atwal for more information, but because of his condition, he never could give them much information before he died.

The Sikh community rallied and raised additional money for a reward in the case. The reward money available totals $57,000. Anyone with information should contact Elk Grove police at (916) 714-5115

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