CINCINNATI — Jasminder Singh drank tea Sunday morning with the patriarch of a family in West Chester Township, Ohio. That night, a shooting left four of the family’s members dead.
Hakikat Panag was one of the four killed at the apartment complex Sunday evening, Singh said. The others were Panag’s wife, adult daughter and sister-in-law, he said. Police did not confirm the identities of the victims at a news conference Monday.
Singh is president of the executive committee for the Guru Nanak Society of Greater Cincinnati, where he says Panag and his family worshipped every Sunday.
There will be a service at the Sikh gurdwara, or place of worship, Monday evening to pray for the family, Singh said.
Just a day ago, Panag told Singh he didn’t have to work weekends anymore, Singh said.
The unremarkable conversation at their place of worship didn’t hint at the tragedy that was to follow.
“He seemed happy,” Singh said. “I wish I knew more.”
A few hours after that conversation over tea, Panag and most of his family were dead.
Singh was working at the gas station he owns when he received a call. After he hung up, he received another.
It was about the man he first met 11 years ago when he moved to West Chester from Kentucky.
A generous man, Panag would give you $5 if you asked him for $1, Singh said. One person called Singh three separate times because she couldn’t believe what happened.
Shaking his head, Singh wondered aloud about who was going to plan the funeral.
West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog addressed journalists Monday and confirmed the victims of the quadruple homicide were all adults and lived in the apartment together.
Herzog added that children also lived in the home, but were not present during the shooting and were safe with other family members.
“It does not appear that the shooter is among the dead,” he said. “It does not appear that there was any return fire.”
Herzog said police are still working with other law enforcement agencies to identify a suspect. He said the community should not be afraid but should remain vigilant.
Police responded to the 4500 block of Wyndtree Drive around 9:40 p.m. Sunday night after a man called 911 pleading for help and saying his wife, mother, father and aunt were down and bleeding.
“Help, please help,” the distraught man can be heard shouting during his 911 call. “They are bleeding.”
He offers limited information, alternately speaking with the dispatcher then yelling for help and banging on doors of neighboring apartments at the Lakefront at West Chester complex.
The caller was unable to answer the dispatcher’s question regarding why the family members were bleeding. He said he had just returned home and found them.
When asked if they were bleeding from the head, he said “yeah.”
Herzog confirmed the caller was related to the victims and also lived at the residence. He said the man has spoken to investigators and is not in custody.
There was an extensive search involving K9 units and a helicopter in the area overnight. No arrests had been reported.
There was also report of a fire at the apartment. Herzog said this was due to unattended food being cooked.
There were some previous calls to that apartment in the past 10 years including one for assault and another for theft. Herzog could not confirm if the victims were residents when these calls were made.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Herzog said.
It was not clear when the Butler County Coroner’s Office would release the identities of the victims.
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