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West Chester Township quadruple homicide not a hate crime, Indian official said

4 found dead in West Chester apartment Sunday
Posted at 11:36 PM, Apr 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 17:31:00-04

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The four people killed Sunday night inside their apartment died within minutes of each other, according to reports released Tuesday by Butler County Coroner Lisa Mannix. Her office's preliminary analysis indicates 59-year-old Hakiakat Singh Pannang and his three female family members — 62-year-old Pamrjit Kaur, 58-year-old Amarjit Kaur and 39-year-old Shalinderjit Kaur — were all shot to death around 9:50 p.m.

Mannix's reports identify "gunshot wounds" — plural — as the cause of death in all four cases.

At least one of them had been preparing food when they died. By the time police arrived at the Lakefront at West Chester apartment complex on Wyndtree Drive, the unattended dish was on fire.

West Chester police Chief Joel Herzog said all four victims had lived in the apartment where the shooting occurred. Children also live there, he said, but they were not there at the time of the attack.

MORE: Victims remembered as 'beautiful family' at Sikh temple they attended

Police do not believe that the shooter numbered among the victims.

Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj, the Indian minister of external affairs, tweeted Tuesday that she was aware of the crime and did not believe it to be a hate crime. According to her tweets, one of the murder victims was an Indian resident in the United States on a visit.

It’s not clear if police are looking for one or multiple suspects, and Herzog said he does not have information on whether someone forced entry.

Authorities established a perimeter around the apartment complex early Monday morning and are now searching on a larger scale. Investigators towed two vehicles from the scene at about 7 a.m. Monday.

Investigative teams continued to canvas the apartment complex and surrounding areas for evidence Monday. A dive team searched a pond on the property, and investigators have searched the grounds extensively.

Ohio State Highway Patrol conducted an aerial search Sunday night. Multiple agencies from Butler County also assisted with K-9 units.

On Tuesday, officials returned to the scene of the incident and resumed searching the area. Dive teams went back into the pond and continued searching. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing divers eventually put something into a white bin before the dive teams packed up and left. Some witnesses said they believed the item they saw was a gun, but the discovery of a murder weapon or any other major piece of evidence has not been confirmed by police.

Watch Monday's full news conference in the player below.

A man called 911 at about 9:40 p.m. Sunday and said his wife and three other family members were on the ground and bleeding.

“No one’s talking, no one’s talking,” he shouted.

He said they were bleeding from the head. When the call taker asked if it looked like they had been shot or stabbed, he said he didn’t know and that he had just gotten home. Herzog said police questioned the man as a witness.

A neighbor also called 911 and said there was a man running around the apartment building telling people to call police.

“He’s just banging on the doors screaming, ‘Please call the police, please call the police, please help me,‘” she said.

Police said in a midnight news conference Monday morning that there was no immediate threat to the community.

Herzog said Monday the community was safe but residents should be diligent about their surroundings.

"Reach out to us," said Herzog. "Anything you see, anything out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to give us a call. Again, nothing's too small. It could be the most minute thing that helps us solve this case."