The gunfire rang out on a sunny Sunday at a Sikh temple sports festival, turning celebration into chaos. Sacramento County prosecutors say Amandeep Singh Dhami and a sidekick were “armed for a massacre” with a .357 revolver and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as they pulled into the festival’s parking lot Aug. 31, 2008.
By the time the shooting stopped at the sports complex on Bradshaw Road, one man lay wounded. Another, Parmjit Pamma Singh, 26, died on the pitch as his alleged gunman and rival fled a pursuing mob, then state and federal authorities as he hopscotched from Los Angeles to Mexico to Munich and finally, to India, where he eluded authorities for five years before his arrest and extradition back to California.
On Wednesday, Dhami faced a Sacramento Superior Court jury for the first time in the fatal shooting and the shooting of a second man who survived his wounds.
“It was a Sunday, a day of celebration,” Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Anthony Ortiz said in his opening statement in the trial before Superior Court Judge Richard Sueyoshi. “What occurred later that afternoon was a murder.”
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Ortiz said Dhami was settling a score from a long-running fight with Parmjit Singh that reignited a week earlier at a San Jose nightclub. Ortiz depicted Dhami as a man with a short fuse and a “propensity for violence” that had already led to gun arrests in 2003 and 2007.
Dhami was simmering again, Ortiz said, in the days before the sports festival shooting and he recruited help, calling in friend and sidekick Gurpreet Singh Gosul from Indiana. Gosul hopped an evening Frontier Airlines flight Aug. 30, 2008, from Indianapolis to Sacramento with a stop in Denver. By 9 p.m. Aug. 30, Ortiz said, they were at a Elk Grove gun shop with their shopping list, picking up .357 and 9 mm handguns and 250 rounds of ammunition. The next day, Parmjit Singh was dead, a second man, Shaib Jeet Singh, hit by gunfire and Dhami was on the run.
Dhami’s attorney, Daniel Horowitz, countered in his remarks that the prosecutors’ case was a “rush to judgment.” Yes, he said, Dhami and Gosul had guns. But they weren’t there to settle scores. Horowitz said Dhami went to the festival to smooth things over after the San Jose nightclub incident and called Gosul for backup fearing that Singh’s cronies were waiting to ambush them.
Dhami and Gosul “were there for a peace meeting, but they didn’t trust these people,” Horowitz said. Things devolved quickly, Horowitz said. There was arguing between Dhami, Gosul and Singh’s group before the gunfire. Horowitz said Parmjit Singh was also armed, and that a weapon was spotted next to him after he was shot, but “to this day, no one knows where the gun is.”
Dhami was on the run for five years with a new name and a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted list before he was arrested by Indian authorities in 2013 and brought back to the states on murder charges. Gosul, was arrested at the shooting scene after being beaten into submission by festival-goers. He was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder in the shooting.