A 20-year- old youth from Mohali who had moved to the US about two years ago was shot dead at a gas station at Sacramento in California late on Tuesday night, local time.
Simranjit Singh was staying with his elder sister, Harpinder Kaur, and her husband, Hartejpreet Chauhan, who had settled there several years ago. He had moved there in October 2015 to study engineering and was working part-time as a clerk at a gas station, barely 10 minutes from their house.
Victim’s father, Ranjit Singh Bhangoo, a retired employee of the Punjab School Education Board, stays with his wife in Sector 70 here. The couple is on their way to the US.
Talking to HT over phone, Hartejpreet Chauhan said the entire family was shaken after Simranjit’s sudden death.
However, he claimed it was not a hate crime.
‘Beware in foreign land’
- Simranjit’s brother-in-law Hartejpreet Chauhan, who also owns a gas station in California, said his advice to Indians working in the US is not to indulge in unnecessary arguments in a foreign country. “The sad part is that Simranjit knew this well, but fell victim to such a crime without any fault of his,” he said.
Only brother to three sisters
- Simranjit was the only brother to three sisters. While he stayed with his eldest sister Harpinder Kaur in the US, another sister Rajwinder Kaur lives in New Zealand. The youngest is married in Mohali, but could not be contacted. Ranbir Dhillon, a relative staying at Phase 11 here, said the 20-year-old was a cheerful person and very bright. “This is the worst that could happed to the family,” he said.
Giving details, Chauhan said Simranjit was present at the gas station along with a co-worker, who is a Pakistani national.
The co-worker reportedly entered into an altercation with three men who were drinking liquor in the gas station’s parking lot.
One of them allegedly assaulted the Pakistani worker, following which he went inside the building to call the police.
“Meanwhile, Simranjit, who was not even aware of the incident, came out to clear the garbage. The drunk men approached him and one of them shot him several times, leading to his death,” said Chauhan. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
One of the suspects, Alexander Lopez, 40, has been arrested, said Chauhan, adding that the police will hand over the body to the family in next few hours.
Want help to speed up transfer of body: Kin
While Simranjit’s parents will reach the US in a day, Chauhan sought intervention of the Indian consulate based in San Francisco as well as the Indian authorities to expedite the transportation of the body to Mohali for the last rites.
“Although I have been assured a consulate official will approach us soon, I have been told the normal procedure to transport the body takes up to 10 days. If possible, we want the formalities to get over sooner,” said the brother-in-law. “My wife is so disturbed and not in a position to speak,” he said.