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Ex-Indian Army major kills family, self in Fresno County home

June 9, 2012 |  9:09 pm

A former major in the Indian Army who was wanted in a 1996 killing in the disputed Kashmir territory shot and killed his wife and two of their children in their Fresno County home Saturday before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

Avtar Singh, 47, called 911 from his family’s home in Selma just after 6 a.m. Saturday and told police he had just killed four people and was about to kill himself, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

The neighborhood was evacuated as a sheriff’s SWAT team used a robot to clear the home and find victims.

When investigators entered the home they found Singh dead in the living room and a woman and child believed to be his wife and 3-year-old son lying dead in the master bedroom. A 15-year-old boy believed to be their son was found dead in another bedroom. All four victims had gunshot wounds to the head.

Sounds coming from another bedroom led deputies to a 17-year-old boy described as “barely alive” because of severe head trauma. He was taken to the hospital for surgery, but his condition was unknown.

Singh fled India after he and soldiers under his command were accused of kidnapping and killing human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi during an anti-India uprising in March 1996 in the Indian-controlled Kashmiri city of Srinagar. Andrabi’s body was discovered on the banks of a local river, a gunshot to his head and his eyes gouged out. 

India sought Singh’s extradition from California last year after Selma police were called to his home for a domestic violence incident, the Fresno Bee reported. It was unclear why he has remained free since then.

Singh owned and operated a trucking company called Jay Truck Lines and had recently told one of his employees that he was stressed over financial problems related to the company, the newspaper reported.

Police in Selma, about 15 miles southeast of Fresno, asked for assistance from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department because they were aware of Singh’s military background and his being wanted by authorities in India.

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--Tony Barboza

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