Wed, Apr 01, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Silicon Valley slaying claims six

‘VERY HORRIFIC’ SCENE: The suspected gunman’s wife was the only survivor of an apparent murder-suicide that rocked a quiet community northwest of San Jose


An apparent murder-suicide in an upscale neighborhood of Silicon Valley that left three children and three adults dead had police searching for a possible motive. At least some of the victims were from India.

Authorities said the suspected gunman shot his wife, their two children and another couple and their child — the wife’s relatives — on Sunday before turning the gun on himself.

The 42-year-old gunman’s wife, a woman in her mid-30s, managed to escape from the town house where officers later found the other five bodies in a “very horrific” scene, police said. She was in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, Santa Clara Police Lieutenant Phil Cooke said.

Authorities said a neighbor called police at about 8:30pm on Sunday after hearing a noise outside and finding the injured woman bleeding on a sidewalk in the Santa Clara community of Rivermark, about 11km northwest of San Jose, Cooke said.

Scattered inside the three-story town house, officers discovered the bodies of the suspected gunman’s 11-year-old son and four-year-old daughter and a 35-year-old man and his 25-year-old wife, both visiting from India — all of them shot dead, police said. The suspected gunman was found on the top floor, dead from a self-inflicted wound, Santa Clara Police Captain Mike Sellers said.

An 11-month-old girl — the child of the couple who had recently come from India — was alive when paramedics arrived, but died overnight at a local hospital, police said.

Police said they did not expect to disclose the identities of the people involved until yesterday, saying they still needed to notify next of kin.

“We want to be 150 percent sure we get the identities right, but that is a challenge right now,” Cooke said.

Investigators were also working to determine a possible motive for the rampage, although they said financial issues did not appear to be a factor. Cooke said two handguns were recovered at the scene.

“We’re very confident that this is a case of a family-related murder-suicide,” Cooke said on Monday night.

The family had moved to the home less than a week ago, he said.

Residents described Rivermark, a seven-year-old planned community with a shopping center, playgrounds and a mix of town houses, condominiums and Spanish-style houses that go for US$1 million, as relatively quiet. Located near several high-tech companies, it draws a mix of retirees and young professionals.

“It’s the sleepiest little area. Nothing ever happens here,” said Jackie Stewart, who walked with her husband over to the crime scene.

Along with another mother, nearby resident Sameena Usman placed two bouquets of flowers and a stuffed dog inside the yellow police tape cordoning off the street.

“It’s a sad situation. We’re pretty tight-knit around here,” Usman said, while pushing her toddler son in a stroller. “Their children could’ve played with my kids.”

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