WASHINGTON: Multiple gunshots echoed in the upscale home of an Indian family in a quiet, gated, suburban Los Angeles community last weekend, echoing the troubled times in America. When police turned up Monday morning after calls from a concerned neighbour waiting for a carpool ride, they found body of 45-year-old Karthik Rajaram, an unemployed financial advisor, lying in one room with a handgun he had used to shoot himself dead. With him lay his two youngest sons Arjuna (7) and Ganesha (12), both shot dead. In different rooms across the house they found the bodies of Karthik’s wife Subasri (39), his mother-in-law Indra Ramasesham (69), and his eldest son Krishna (19). They all appeared to have been shot to death by Karthik Rajaram. Police also found two suicide notes and a will left behind by Rajaram. In them, he spoke of his financial difficulties and took responsibility for killing his family members, police said. "This is a perfect American family behind me that has absolutely been destroyed," LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore told reporters. "It is critical to step up and recognize we are in some pretty troubled times." Rajaram had an MBA in finance, and formerly worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Sony Pictures, but had been unemployed for several months, according to local media reports citing authorities. Investigators also determined that he was at least the part-owner of a financial holding company, SKGL LLC, which was incorporated in Nevada, ostensibly to hold his family assets. The family appears to have been well-off at one time. According to the Los Angeles Times, they sold their home in Northridge in 2006 for $750,000, making a sizable profit on a home they purchased in 1997 for $274,000. They had also taken out two loans for $241,400. The family did not own the current home, which was rented. The incident sent shock waves through neighbourhood, the larger Indian community and American financial world on a day the monetary world saw yet another bloodbath. Indians are widely known and recognized as the most successful ethnic community in the US with the highest per capita income among all segments of the population, including Whites. But the country is now starting to hear of many hard luck stories, including among Indians, although nothing like this. And not in the City of Angels, far removed from the frenzied financial world of New York. "All the talk of bailouts for these big financial companies take the front page on all the papers, but the impact of the economic crisis on individuals is sometimes overlooked. This is a sad and tragic reminder of how quickly people can spiral into a horrible place," one blogger lamented, as the story burnt the wires late on Monday. Even the police were constrained to comment on the troubled economic times. Neighbours said the Rajarams were a quiet, decent family who pretty much kept to themselves and did not socialize much. The eldest son Krishna, a Fullbright scholar, appeared to be visiting home and the parents seemed to have given up their master bedroom for him, police said. Local school authorities said the two younger kids were also extremely bright and the parents had been very much involved in their education. The family did not appear to be particularly troubled. According to the police, there was no evidence that Rajaram had sought help from mental health professionals. However, the context of the letters and the fact Rajaram had purchased the handgun as recently as September 16 indicated that his actions were "premeditated," they said. "He had become despondent over his financial situation," Deputy Chief Moore related. In one of his letters, he talked of two options: taking his own life or taking his own life and that of his family. "He talked himself into the second strategy," Moore said. One of the neighbours reported that Rajaram had spoken to her twice in the last two weeks asking whether she would be home this past weekend. He urged her to keep her side windows shut because he had heard of burglaries in the area. He seemed nervous -- shaking, pacing and taking notes on a notepad as he spoke to her, she told the LA Times. She surmised after the bloody massacre that he was trying to have her close her windows so that she wouldn't hear anything. Apparently, no one did, because it was not until Monday when another neighbour rang the Rajarams' bell to remind Subasri about the carpool ride did the tragic incident come to light.
7 months ago