Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Murder-Suicide in Silicon Valley's Indian Family
Five members of a South Indian family are dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Sunnyvale, CA. The 42-year-old Yahoo engineer, Devan Kalathat, aka Raghavan Devarajan, opened fire on his wife, his two children and his wife's brother's family who were all living in the same townhouse in Sunnyvale, and then turned the gun on himself.
According to media reports, Kalathat was a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved from India to Sunnyvale 15 years ago. Kalathat's wife, Abha, is reported in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds in her upper body. Sunnyvale Police identified the dead victims as Kalathat's children: 11-year-old Akhil Dev and 4-year-old Negha Dev; Kalathat's brother-in-law Ashok Appu Poothemkandi, 35, Poothemkandi's wife, Suchitra Sivaraman, 25; and the Poothemkandis' infant daughter, Ahana Ashok.
In a story posted Tuesday, the Times of India had an interview with Kalathat's father-in-law, Appu Master, an 80-year-old retired schoolteacher, in Tamil Nadu. Master told the news organization that the shooter had a "quarrel" with Master's son, Poothemkandi.
Ashok Kumar Sinha of the Consulate Generals of India in San Francisco said it helped police notify relatives and will be working with the family to claim the bodies. Relatives from India and England are on their way to Sunnyvale.
There was another, similar incident involving an Indian family near Los Angeles, California, last year in Oct. Time magazine reported that police discovered the bodies of the Rajaram family in their home on Como Lane. Karthik Rajaram, 45, had shot his mother-in-law, wife and three children to death before killing himself.
Rajaram, a former financial analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sony Pictures, left two suicide notes — one for police and another for family and friends — and a will. "I understand he was unemployed, his dealings in the stock market had taken a disastrous turn for the worse," said Los Angeles deputy police chief Michel R. Moore. "This was a person who had been quite successful in this arena." Amid news of the global financial crisis and the credit crunch, this murder-suicide has become emblematic of the times — in its way parallelling the deathly plunges of Wall Street stockbrokers in 1929, reported the magazine.
While this murder-suicide is very tragic, the news of violent crime or deadly violence among South Asian-Americans in Silicon Valley is very rare. Most members of the community are well educated with solid middle class backgrounds. Many own their own homes and are known to be highly family oriented, sending their children to the best schools in the valley.
Bigotry Bedevils South Indian Eatery
Silicon Valley Job Cuts Hit H1B Workers
Musharraf in Silicon Valley
Pakistani American: Mr. Thirty Percent of Silicon Valley
Sir Syed Day Mushaira in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Summit of Pakistani Entrepreneurs