By Carma Hassan and Jason Hanna, CNN
Updated: Thu, 02 May 2019 17:02:26 GMT
Days after four members of a Sikh family were found shot dead in their Ohio apartment, authorities say they're trying to find out who shot them, and why they were killed.
A family member found the four -- a man and three women -- wounded Sunday night in the apartment in West Chester Township, roughly a 25-mile drive north of Cincinnati, police said.
The man who found them called 911 and told a dispatcher that his wife, mother, father and aunt were down and bleeding.
Police who arrived found the four dead as well as evidence that someone was preparing food there when they were killed, township Police Chief Joel Herzog told reporters.
The slain man, the Butler County coroner's office said, was Hakiakat Singh Pannag, 59. The three women were Parmjit Kaur, 62; Amarjit Kaur, 58; and the 911 caller's wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39.
All four died of gunshot wounds around 9:50 p.m. Sunday, the coroner's office said. Herzog, speaking Monday to the news media, said it didn't appear any of the four had fired a weapon.
Officials in 2 countries say they don't believe it was a hate crime
Police have said they're trying to figure out a motive in the deaths.
But officials in Ohio as well as in India, where the family had roots, have said the killings did not appear to be a hate crime.
India's minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said on Twitter that one victim was an Indian national on a visit to the United States, while the others were of Indian origin.
"The matter is under investigation by the police but it is not a hate crime," she said, citing information she received about the case from India's ambassador to the United States.
West Chester Township spokeswoman Barbara Wilson also said Wednesday that police have no reason to believe the killings were a hate crime. She did not elaborate.
Though Swaraj said one of the victims was visiting from India, Herzog said it appeared all four lived at the Ohio apartment, along with some children.
The children were not at the apartment at the time of the killings, and are safe with relatives, Herzog said.
A prayer service for the family is held at a local Sikh temple
The four were members of the local Sikh community, Jasminder Singh told CNN affiliate WCPO in Cincinnati.
Singh led a prayer service for the victims Monday night at a Sikh temple where he is executive committee president in the township.
The slain women had participated in events at the temple and helped prepare food there, Singh told WCPO.
"We want to pray for (Pannag) and his full family," Singh told WCPO, adding that he'd been the slain man's friend for 11 years. "It's sad. Horrible. Scary. Everybody in the community is scared. It's never happened here before."
A man who attended the prayer service, Katwinder Dhaliwal, told WCPO that he used to be a neighbor of the victims, but he moved two months ago.
"They were really nice people," Dhaliwal said. "Middle-class family, you know. Hard workers, do everyday work, come back. ... They came from India. Had a good future, you know?"