An Indian-American IT professional committed suicide by shooting himself while his wife and two minor sons were shot dead inside their home in Iowa, police said Monday after the authorities conducted autopsies to unravel the mysterious death of all four members of the family.
The West Des Moines Police Department, which is probing the case, came to this conclusion after forensic autopsies were conducted on Sunday.
The family of four, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, was found dead under mysterious circumstances with gunshot wounds.
The bodies of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, their 14-year-old son Prabhas Sunkara and 11-year-old son Suhas Sunkara were found in their home on Saturday morning.
West Des Moines police said that Chandrasekhar killed himself inside his family’s home. His wife, Lavanya, and the couple’s sons were fatally shot, authorities said. However, police declined to identify their killer, but they have said there is no danger to the public in connection with the deaths, The Des Moines Register reported.
“The manners of death for Lavanya Sunkara and the two boys are a homicide. The manner of death for Chandrasekhar Sunkara is suicide,” the police said in a statement.
“The State Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the causes of death for all four family members to be gunshot wounds,” the police said.
“Officials are working with surviving family members to provide support. Investigators are continuing to review evidence and conduct interviews,” the police added.
Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard said Monday that Chandrasekhar was issued a permit to carry weapons in April after passing a state background check.
Leonard said that West Des Moines police had told him that Sunkara purchased at least one weapon after the permit was issued, but investigators were still working to determine what was purchased and from where.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) said he was an IT professional in the Technology Services Bureau for the department for the past 11 years.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Sunkaras,” the DPS said in a statement.
Sunkara was an information and technology specialist 5 for the department, earning USD 105,000 in 2018, according to the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.
Dallas County Assessor’s Office records show Chandra and Lavanya Sunkara bought the home March 25 for USD 570,000, The Des Moines Register newspaper reported.
Officers with the West Des Moines Police Department were sent on Saturday morning to the 900 blocks of 65th Street, where they found the bodies.
“This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family,” Sergeant Dan Wade said in a 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.
Although few had had many interactions with the Sunkaras, who had moved into the home in March, many told The Des Moines Register newspaper that they are unsettled and saddened by the deaths in their neighbourhood.
Uni Kischer, who lives behind the Sunkaras’ home, said she had not yet met the parents but had talked to one of the sons a couple of weeks ago. The boy had come over to her yard after his electric helicopter went over the fence.
Kischer said she spoke with the boy for a little bit after retrieving the helicopter and added he was “very sweet and very, very polite.” “I just can’t believe it. It’s just horrific,” Kischer, a resident of the neighbourhood for over 20 years, said, adding that she cannot recall anything like this ever happening in that area. Brandi Carter, who lives next-door to the Sunkaras’ home, said hearing about the deaths was “very scary, just very surreal.” Meanwhile, the visitation of the dead will be done on Tuesday, according to information on the website of Caldwell Parrish Funeral Home in Urbandale.