17 arrested, including Sikhs, over California gurdwara shootings; AK-47s seized

Police in California have arrested 17 people for a series of shootings at gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and they have seized 41 firearms such as AK-47s, handguns, and a machine gun. The 17 were arrested in raids at 20 locations on Sunday, the State Attorney General said yesterday (local time).

AK-47s were amongst many weapons seized in the raids. Photo for representative purpose. Photo courtesy: Canva

The 17 people arrested were mostly from the members of the local Sikh community, according to official information, and they were caught as law enforcement agents carried out raids at 20 locations in Northern California. The details were revealed in an announcement made by California Attorney General Rob Bonta; Yuba City Police Chief Brian Baker; and Sutter County District Attorney Jennifer Dupre.

According to Dupre, two of those arrested were members of the mafia who were “wanted in India” for several murders.

Two people had been injured in a shootout at a gurdwara in Sacramento County, California, in March this year. In August last year, there was gurdwara shooting in Stockton, California, where the police arrived to find three people with “non-life-threatening injuries”.

Bonta said that the people arrested were part of rival criminal syndicates and were suspects in a number of violent crimes and shootings. A press release from the California Attorney General’s office said: “These groups are alleged to be responsible for numerous violent crimes and shootings, including five attempted murders, in Sutter, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo, and Merced counties.”

“Today, California is safer thanks to collaboration, determination, and swift action by DOJ (Department of Justice) agents and our law enforcement partners in Sutter County,” said the attorney general.

With the arrest of these people, two more shootings were prevented, said a law enforcement press release. Bonta said, “No family should ever have to worry about drive-by shootings or other forms of gun violence in the neighbourhoods where their children live and play. As a result of this joint law enforcement effort, we’re taking guns off the street and putting suspected gang members and their associates behind bars.”

According to the press release: “The investigation began in February 2023, as part of a cooperative effort with the Yuba Sutter Narcotic and Gang Enforcement Task Force (NET-5), Yuba City Police Department, California Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Operations Unit, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Special Operations Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, US Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office.

“During the investigation, assistance was provided by the CHP, Woodland Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Vacaville Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Stanislaus Special Investigations Unit, and several local, state, and federal task forces. During [Sunday’s] operation, additional assistance was provided by the California Highway Patrol, Stockton Police Department, Ceres Police Department, Manteca Police Department, Merced Police Department, Sutter County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tracy Police Department.”