ALMOST seven years ago, on August 31, 2008, gunfire erupted at the Gurmukh Singh Johal Memorial Tournament, a sports festival held at the Sacramento Sikh Society Sports Complex in Sacramento, California, terrifying the shocked crowd. Parmjit Pamma Singh, 26, was killed and Sahibjeet Singh was injured.
One of the shooters, Amandeep Singh Dhami, then 24, fled the festival grounds, but a second shooter, Gurpreet Singh Gosal, was captured and held by festival spectators until Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived.
On August 9, 2013, Gosal was sentenced in Sacramento County Superior Court to 35 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and firing a weapon in the course of a murder for his role in the shooting.
Dhami’s federal fugitive poster appeared on the Sacramento FBI’s website. Later, the poster was translated into Punjabi and redistributed internationally. Over the years, various sources speculated that Dhami may have fled to Canada, but the FBI in 2013 followed up on leads that revealed that he was residing in India under an assumed name.
In November 2013, Dhami was arrested in Jalandhar, Punjab, on local charges by Indian authorities. Indian media reports said Dhami had been staying there for the past four years under a fake name – Jujhar Singh.
Dhami would have been easy to identify because of his tattoos. The FBI in its alert for Dhami had mentioned: “Dhami has the following tattoos: the word “Loyalty” on the outside of his right arm, the numbers “916” on the inside of his right arm, the word “Soorma” on the outside of his left arm, the letters “PBF” on his right chest, a teardrop under his left eye, and the word “Punjabi” on the inside of his left arm.”
Dhami was extradited to the U.S. to face trial.
THIS week, Dhami was convicted in Sacramento Superior Court of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the killing of his rival and the wounding of another man in the 2008 shooting, after jurors had heard a month of testimony and then deliberated for almost a week before deciding he was guilty.
The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported that the prosecutor depicted Dhami as a violent man steeped in gang life. He said Dhami came to the festival that day “armed for a massacre” and ready to settle a score with rival Parmjit Pamma Singh in a long-standing feud.
Dhami arrived at the festival grounds with a trusted lieutenant, Gurpreet Singh Gosal, flown in for the occasion, armed and carrying 250 rounds of ammunition, the newspaper reported. Singh was shot dead on the festival’s cricket grounds, and his confidant, Sahibjeet Singh, was wounded but alive. Gosal was captured by the festival spectators, but Dhami managed to flee.
Dhami’s defense counsel said that Dhami and Gosal agreed to meet with Singh at the festival – neutral ground for a peace meeting where, Dhami testified, “two gangsters could work things out” – but were armed to protect themselves from a possible ambush by an armed Singh and his crew, the newspaper reported.
The defence counsel said he plans to file a motion for a new trial.
Sentencing in the case has been set for September 4.
IN May 2011, Dhami’s father, Balbir Singh Dhami, 54, was gunned down in Sacramento. His wife was injured. Balbir Dhami had a criminal record and was awaiting sentencing after being convicted of drug running in a Los Angeles federal court, according to one U.S. media report.
According to another U.S. media report, Balbir Dhami was among six defendants indicted in a drug trafficking case early in 2008, according to federal court documents. Prosecutors alleged that he conspired to use his ties to the trucking business to transport large amounts of cocaine between Los Angeles, Sacramento, Canada and elsewhere in the country.
Wiretaps picked up conversations between defendants discussing shipments of as much as 48 kilograms of cocaine, according to documents. The authorities intercepted that shipment in New Mexico.
The report said that a jury convicted Dhami of the conspiracy charge in April 2010, but it does not appear he was ever sentenced. Shortly after the verdict, the national security division of the U.S. Department of Justice assumed control of the case.
– VOICE REPORT