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Authorities still seeking suspects in attack on Sikh men; hate crime not ruled out

April 11, 2011 |  8:38 am

Sikh

As they did almost every day on their customary afternoon stroll, Surinder Singh, 65, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, neighbors in the Northern California community of Elk Grove, stopped to rest at a bright green bus shelter overlooking California 99.

The men, wearing their traditional Sikh turbans, were shot by an unknown assailant. Singh died at the scene. Atwal remains in critical condition more than a month after the March 4 shooting. Their bodies were found slumped on the sidewalk by the wife of a family friend.

No arrests have been made and no motive established in last month's shooting of the elderly Sikh neighbors, which has triggered a national outcry. Police have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime.

State Sen. Darryl Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans a ceremony on the Senate floor Monday to acknowledge the shooting victims. He also helped organize an American Sikh Day celebration on the Capitol steps Wednesday to honor California's 200,000 Sikhs.

"What occurred in our community last month is sickening," Steinberg said. "There is only one response to be had. That is you speak up and you come together."

The FBI is assisting Elk Grove police, who immediately sought to allay the fears of the town's 3,000 Sikhs and increased patrols where seniors often stroll. A $50,000 reward for information in the case has also been established.

Read the full story here: Attack on Sikh men triggers outcry in Elk Grove, Calif., and beyond

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-- Lee Romney

Photo: Amarjit Kaur, the wife of Surinder Singh, views her husband's body during a service for the slain man. Singh was shot and killed while walking with a friend in Elk Grove, Calif., in March. Credit: Bryan Patrick / Sacramento Bee

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