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Man who shot family is Indian fugitive

The accused in the shooting of an Indian family in California was a former Indian army officer wanted for years for murder in his homeland.

Authorities have said the former officer, Avtar Singh, shot his wife and two children and gravely wounded a third child before turning the gun on himself. Investigators were still trying to determine a motive.

The Indian government previously sought extradition of Singh in connection with the 1996 death of a prominent lawyer and human rights activist in Kashmir.

The close-knit Indian community numbers 15,500 in Fresno County, including about 750 in Selma, a small town surrounded by vineyards and peach orchards.

"Our community is completely shocked," said Rajbir Singh Pannu, president of the town's Sikh temple. "Anybody who takes somebody's life, in our religion, that's cowardice."


Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice said Singh called police around 6:15am on Saturday morning and told them he had just killed four people.

A sheriff's SWAT team was called in to assist because of Singh's military background.

The SWAT team found the bodies of Singh, a woman believed to be his wife and two children, ages 3 and 15 in the home.

All appeared to have died from gunshot wounds, Curtice said.

The 17-year-old suffered severe head trauma.