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Indian American IT professional shot 3 of family, killed self

June 18, 2019 14:47 IST
IMAGE: Chandrasekhara Sunkara

An Indian-American IT professional committed suicide by shooting himself while his wife and two minor sons were shot dead inside their home in the US state of Iowa, the police said Monday after authorities conducted autopsies to unravel the mysterious death of all four members of the family.

The West Des Moines police department, which is probing the case, came to this conclusion after forensic autopsies were conducted on Sunday.

The family of four, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, was found dead under mysterious circumstances with gunshot wounds.


The bodies of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, their 14-year-old son Prabhas Sunkara and 11-year-old son Suhas Sunkara were found in their home on Saturday morning.

The West Des Moines police said that Chandrasekhar killed himself inside his family's home. His wife, Lavanya, and the couple's sons were fatally shot, authorities said. However, the police declined to identify their killer, but they have said there is no danger to the public in connection with the deaths, the Des Moines Register reported.

"The manners of death for Lavanya Sunkara and the two boys are homicide. The manner of death for Chandrasekhar Sunkara is suicide," the police said in a statement.

"The state medical examiner's office has determined the causes of death for all four family members to be gunshot wounds," the police said.

"Officials are working with surviving family members to provide support. Investigators are continuing to review evidence and conduct interviews," the police added.

Dallas county sheriff Chad Leonard said Monday that Chandrasekhar was issued a permit to carry weapons in April after passing a state background check.

Leonard said that the West Des Moines police had told him that Sunkara purchased at least one weapon after the permit was issued, but investigators were still working to determine what was purchased and from where.

The Iowa department of public safety said he was an IT professional in the Technology Services Bureau for the department for the past 11 years.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Sunkaras," the DPS said in a statement.

He was a civilian worker, and so was not a sworn officer, Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of Iowa's division of criminal investigation, said.

"This was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the family," Mortvedt said.

IMAGE: Lavanya Sunkara

Sunkara was an information and technology specialist 5 for the department, earning USD 105,000 in 2018, according to the Iowa department of administrative services.

Officers with the West Des Moines police department were sent on Saturday morning to the 900 block of 65th Street, where they found the bodies.

"This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family," Sergeant Dan Wade said in statement.

"We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows. We are confident, though, that there is no continuing threat to the community," Wade said.

The police said other family members, two adults and two children, were staying in the home as guests. When the bodies were discovered, one of the relatives ran outside looking for help and found a passerby, who called 911.

"You don't see something like this happen in the Indian community, let alone a heinous act like this," said Shrikar Somayajula, who has known the Sunkaras for over a decade.

"The family was a very friendly family and so it is really painful," said Somayajula.

"We have more questions than answers now as to why this happened and we will probably never find out why this happened," he said.

The visitation of the dead will be done on Tuesday, according to information on the website of Caldwell Parrish Funeral Home in Urbandale.

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