A Sikh congregation in central California is reeling after a 64-year-old member was stabbed to death while out walking this week.
Parmjit Singh was reportedly taking a routine Sunday night walk near Tracy’s Gretchen Talley Park when he was attacked. He was left bleeding on the street and was pronounced dead at the scene, local police confirmed.
Tracy police say there’s no evidence that the homicide was motivated by race or religion.
“Any such inference is completely inappropriate at this point,” said Tracy’s interim police chief, Alex Neicu. “Of course, like any other thorough investigation, we consider all possibilities and motives, but we follow where the evidence leads us.”
Singh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 2016, CBS Sacramento reports. He lived with his daughter and son-in-law in Tracy and had three grandchildren.
The crime has deeply shocked members of Tracy’s Sikh community, according to Deep Singh, secretary of the Sikh gurdwara, or house of worship, that Parmjit Singh attended. He said relations between the city’s various religious communities are generally very strong.
“This was never expected in Tracy, because it doesn’t matter which religion, which race anybody belongs to, they go along together very easily,” Deep Singh said.
Parmjit Singh was an active member of the Gurdwara Gur Nanak Parkash in Tracy. He helped serve food at the temple, Deep Singh said, and was a mentor to new immigrants from India. He also volunteered with temple members to distribute water to attendees of the local Fourth of July parade.
On Monday, Tracy’s police department released a security video of a man who was near Gretchen Talley Park around the time of Parmjit Singh’s death. Investigators are trying to obtain a statement about what the man may have seen.
Tracy’s interim police chief, detectives working on the case and other city officials attended a meeting Monday evening to answer community members’ questions about the investigation.
Jass Sangha, a gurdwara attendee who organized the meeting, told HuffPost that the community is shaken up by Parmjit Singh’s death. She’s hesitant to call what happened a hate crime, however, until the police complete their investigation.
“I’ve full faith that the culprit will be arrested soon,” Sangha, who is currently campaigning to be Tracy’s next mayor, wrote in an email.
“Sikh community is bit shaken up [and] very sad but Tracy is a very diverse city,” she added. “We all feel very safe here.”
Parmjit Singh’s death is the seventh attack on an elderly, turban-wearing Sikh man since 2011 in the Central Valley and Northern California region, according to The Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy group.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of this elderly Sikh community member,” the group’s legal director Amrith Kaur said in a statement. “As we look to learn more, we expect that local law enforcement will continue to investigate this case thoroughly, including the possibility that bias was a motivating factor in his murder.”
A vigil at Gretchen Talley Park in memory of Parmjit Singh is scheduled for Wednesday evening.