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4-member Indian-American family found dead with gunshot wounds

PTI

Washington

A 44-year-old Indian-American IT professional, his wife and two minor sons have been found dead in mysterious circumstances with gunshot wounds inside their home in the US state of Iowa, shocking the community.

The bodies of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, their 15-year-old and a 10-year-old sons were found in their home on Saturday morning, West Des Moines police said in a statement.

Autopsies were pending to determine the official causes of death, but police said all four had gunshots wounds.

Chandrasekhar, known as Chandra, reportedly hailed from Andhra Pradesh.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirmed that he was an IT professional employee in the Technology Services Bureau for the the department.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Sunkaras,” the DPS said in a statement.

Counseling services will be available on Monday for any employee needing assistance, DPS Commissioner Stephan K Bayens said.

Officers with the West Des Moines Police Department were sent on Saturday morning to the 900 block of 65th Street, where they found the bodies.

The police said they all died of apparent gunshot wounds but an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death. No arrests have been made so far.

“This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family,” Sergeant Dan Wade said in statement.

“We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows. We are confident, though, that there is no continuing threat to the community,” Wade said.

Police said other family members, two adults and two children, were staying in the home as guests. When the bodies were discovered, one of the relatives ran outside looking for help and found a passerby, who called 911, the NBC news reported.

No suspect was reported to be in custody, but police said they were confident that there was no threat to the community, it said.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

“You don’t see something like this happen in the Indian community, let alone a heinous act like this,” said Shrikar Somayajula who has known the Sunkaras for over a decade.

Somayajula is a director at A Grade Ahead, an after-school enrichment academy in West Des Moines, where both boys attended frequently, whotv.Com reported.

“The family was a very friendly family and so it is really painful,” said Somayajula.

He added, “For someone who we’ve known so close and we’ve seen them come in week after week come in for classes and we’ve seen them as recent as last Wednesday, to learn that they are not there anymore is something that really breaks our heart.”

He said both Sunkara boys were bright students.

“They participated in all the academy competitions and even at the national level. “Really bright children. Just heads down and minded their business always,” Somayajula said.

“We have more questions than answers now as to why this happened and we will probably never find out why this happened,” said Somayajula.

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