A Sikh man was murdered while taking a walk at a park near his home in Tracy, California over the weekend.
Parmjit Singh, 64, was pronounced dead on a sidewalk outside Gretchen Talley Park, just feet away from Wanda Hirsch Elementary School on Sunday night.
Police arrived within two minutes of a 911 call reporting the attack, which took place inside the park around 9 p.m.
They are now searching for a Caucasian male who was seen running around the same area where Singh was killed, based on surveillance footage.
Singh, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in 2016, was a farmer who studied American irrigation systems. He had two kids and three grandchildren.
“I lost my own dad back in ’87. He was like a dream to have a dad again,” son-in-law Harnek Singh Kang told CBS Sacramento. “He was very close to me. These things that happen are really bad, should not happen.”
The 64-year-old was an active member of the Gurdwara Gur Nanak Parkash, the temple he attended in Tracy. He helped serve food, mentored new immigrants and volunteered in outreach activities such as distributing water to attendees at the local Fourth of July parade.
Deep Singh, the temple’s secretary, said that the crime has shocked the city’s Sikh community.
“This was never expected in Tracy, because it doesn’t matter which religion, which race anybody belongs to, they go along together very easily,” he told HuffPost.
Tracy officials attended an emergency meeting on Monday to calm unrest and answer questions from the Sikh community. Mayor Robert Rickman said, “We will use every available resource in this city, state and federal, to find whoever did this and bring them to justice.”
Additionally, interim Police Chief Alex Neicu pointed out that it is “completely inappropriate” to make early inferences that race or religion could have played a role in the crime.
“Of course, like any other thorough investigation, we consider all possibilities and motives, but we follow where the evidence leads us,” he said.
However, security cameras in Gretchen Talley Park were not working. Apparently, signs displayed in the park say that the area is being monitored “for your protection.”
Unfortunately, none of those cameras worked the night Singh was killed. In fact, they have not been operational for years, police said.
“I know that’s been a big question in the community, ‘Why wasn’t this captured on video surveillance?’” Lt. Trevin Freitas told ABC 10. “It’s a sad event, understandably so, but those cameras actually weren’t functioning at the time, so we don’t believe we have any video related to the positioning of those cameras.”
It turns out that the cameras were originally set up by a neighborhood watch group years ago. The footage showing a Caucasian male running in the area came from a camera installed in the nearby elementary school.
“It’s frustrating to think that they maybe could have seen something that would have helped solve the crime, but now they’re not functional so it’s too bad. [I] really wish [the camera] would [work] or notify us that they weren’t working,” said John Goulding, who lived near the park for 23 years.
The Sikh community gathered on Wednesday for Singh’s memorial.
A $1,000 reward awaits anyone with information leading to a suspect.
Tipsters are urged to contact Detective Camillo Swiger at (209) 831-6648, Detective Jarrod Jesser at (209) 831-6640, Tracy Police at (209) 831-6550 or Tracy Crime Stoppers (209) 831-4847.
Featured Images courtesy of Harnek Singh Kang