Washington, Apr 9 (IANS): A Sikh, who came to an Ohio gurdwara wielding a meat cleaver as worshippers were preparing for morning prayers, was shot dead by police after refusing to heed warnings to drop the weapon.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer daily said the man identified as Ravinder Nijjar, 41, of Bedford, showed up at Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara of Greater Cleveland shortly before 4:30 a.m. Thursday wielding the cleaver. Startled members called police.
The daily cited Police Chief Gregory Duber as saying Nijjar approached an officer inside the building holding the meat cleaver. The officer, whose name was not released, twice ordered Nijjar to drop the weapon, Duber said. He then shot Nijjar three times from about 11 feet away,
Duber said two priests told police that there were two other people inside the temple as well as the man with the weapon.
"Two police officers entered the temple, with the two members," Duber was quoted as saying. "One officer went up a flight of stairs and the other officer went down. The officer who went downstairs went into a hallway when Nijjar came down another flight of stairs toward him with the cleaver.
"The officer said, 'Drop the knife,' twice but the man continued walking toward him," Duber continued. "The officer shot him." Nijjar was pronounced dead at 5:10 a.m. at the Bedford Medical Centre.
Duber told the Plain Dealer Nijjar's only prior run in with the law that Bedford police were aware of was a 2008 arrest for being drunk and disorderly. "He was on the street yelling at passing cars," he said.
Nijjar was taken to the Marymount Mental Health Centre for treatment. Bedford Municipal Court Judge Brian Melling found Nijjar guilty of disorderly conduct on Dec 29, 2008, after Nijjar pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.
Hours after the shooting, many Sikhs stood outside the temple comforting Nijjar's family and asking questions amongst themselves, the daily said.
"Why? Why? We just don't know," Kamaljit Singh Janda, the former president of the temple told the Plain Dealer. "Nobody knows why he did it. Perhaps he had some mental issues."