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Indian American convicted of drug charges shot dead

May 20, 2011 12:30 IST

An Indian American and his wife were shot at by an unidentified assailant in Sacramento, California on Thursday.

While Balbir Singh Dhami was killed, his wife Kuldip Kaur Dhami was taken to the area hospital for treatment of "critical injuries", according to Sacramento Police spokeswoman Laura Peck. The shooting happened just after 10 am at the 7900 block of Marla Way Marla in North Laguna Creek in South Sacramento.

Authorities said detectives are actively investigating the circumstances that led to the homicide.

Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives suspect that it was neither a random act nor a hate crime. The suspect was described as a dark skinned and short male of a thin build. He had short hair and was wearing a yellow sweatshirt. He fled the scene in a gold-coloured vehicle.

Balbir Singh Dhami was the owner of Sahota truck stop in Sacramento and was a known businessman.

Balbir Singh had earlier faced federal drug trafficking charges and was arrested in 2007. The jury had found Balbir Singh guilty on all charges and his sentencing date had been set for August.

Balbir Singh was charged for trafficking cocaine worth a million dollars across US to Canada. He had been released on bail a couple of months earlier.

Satnam Singh Chahal, president of the North American Punjabi Association, expressed his condolences about the shooting. He said the incident was unfortunate and the motive behind the shooting was not yet known.

Amandeep Singh, Balbir Singh's son, is wanted for his alleged involvement in the murder of one man and the wounding of another on August 31, 2008 in Sacramento city of California, said Chahal.

On that day, Amandeep Singh and an accomplice had allegedly entered a sporting arena in Sacramento, California and fired several shots. While one Paramjit Singh Pamma died at the scene, the second victim was critically wounded. The shooting apparently stemmed from a feud.

A local arrest warrant was issued and Amandeep Singh was charged with homicide in September 2008. A federal arrest warrant charging Amandeep Singh with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was also issued. His accomplice was later arrested

Sacramento sheriff's department had arrested Amandeep's father Balbir Singh, his sister-in-law Rajvir Kaur and his cousins Harpreet Kaur and Buhpinder Chahal. But they were later released

Detectives believe all four of Dhami's relatives had knowledge about the crime he committed and helped him escape. Investigators believe that Amandeep is hiding in India.

Ritu Jha