Local

Selma man kills wife, 2 children, and himself

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Valley community is trying to cope with the loss of friends after a murder-suicide that left four people dead and one boy fighting for his life.

Authorities say the shooter called Selma police just after six o'clock Saturday morning, saying he killed four people and was about to kill himself.

The call came from a home on Pine near Shaft. Police knew the man who lived there had military experience, so they requested help from the sheriff's office SWAT team.

The man is identified as 47-year-old Avtar Singh. He was also wanted for murder in India.

This tragedy has left the Selma community devastated. Action News spoke with friends of the two teenagers who attended Selma High School and they are mourning the loss of a family.

Friends of the Singh family are in shock after Saturday morning's tragic homicide in Selma that left a mother and two of her children dead, including a 3-year-old.

Chris Smith was best friends with the 15-year-old Selma High School student killed in his bedroom. Friends of the family are identifying him as Aryan Singh. The junior was involved with the school's ROTC program.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office says the boy's father Avtar Singh called 911 just after six o'clock on Saturday morning.

Sheriff Mims said, "He reported that he had killed his family and that he was going to kill himself."

Investigators evacuated nearby homes and sent in a robot two hours later, before a SWAT team moved in.

Sheriff Mims said, "It appears as though Mr. Singh shot four of his family members and shot himself."

Avtar Singh was among the four dead. Sing's 17-year-old son, Chris, had severe head trauma and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

For this community, the tragedy is incomprehensible.

Family friend Karri Latimer-Smith said, "It's pretty bad that a man can go ahead and take his whole family's life almost and wipe out a generation."

The 17-year-old is said to be in critical condition. Friends of the family are planning to hold a candlelight vigil outside their home Sunday night at nine o'clock.

Selma Murder-Suicide; the background of Avtar Singh

Action News spoke with Avtar Singh last year after we learned he was wanted for murder in India.

Selma police also knew about his history, but could not hold him on those international charges.

Selma police made a shocking discovery when they arrested Avtar Singh on domestic violence charges last year. His fingerprints revealed Singh was an international murder suspect.

Sheriff Mims said, "The murder warrant had been issued, however his telling of the events that yes in fact he did kill people but it was part of a military action."

Singh served as an army captain in India before moving to Selma, where he owned his own trucking business. Indian investigators believe Singh is the mastermind behind the death of human rights activist Jalil Andrabi in 1996.

But Valley authorities could not hold him on those charges because international officers had not taken the steps to extradite him. Singh spent only a few hours in jail on the domestic violence charges before being released on bail. An Action News team spoke with him days later.

Reporter: "Are you the same Avtar Singh who's wanted in Kashmir for the murder of Jalil Andrabi?"

Singh: "It's alleged."

Singh claimed he was a scapegoat and that the allegations made him a target for Al Qaeda.

Singh: "If I'm exposed on this, the Islamic militants, they're already looking for me."

Selma police pledged to keep a close eye on Singh after learning about his past. And when the 9-1-1 call came in from his home Saturday morning, authorities knew what they might be up against.

Sheriff Mims said, "We knew that he had military experience, we knew that he had experience that may be dangerous to law enforcement, and that's why we responded the way we did this morning with our SWAT team."

Now the neighborhood is in shock, wondering what could push a man to kill his own family.

Stay with Action News and ABC30.com for more on this developing story.

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Tags:
murder, murder-suicide, homicide, swat, selma, fresno county, local, mariana jacob
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