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Sikh temple shooter denied early parole

In 2000, Sikh temple leader Ajmer Singh Malhi was killed by a man with a rifle during Sunday services in El Sobrante.

In 2001, the shooter Joga Singh Sandher was convicted and sentenced 50-years-to-life in prison.

22 years later, a Contra Costa superior judge denied a request from a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for a lesser sentence. Sandher is now ineligible for early release for another ten years.

The parole board concluded Sandher “posed an unreasonable risk to public safety and was not suitable for parole.”

According to CBS News, Sandher had been upset that he was denied an opportunity to address the congregation.

Due to limited time left for the service, Malhi had rejected his request to speak.

According to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, Sandher took his family outside, retrieved his rifle and returned to the temple where he yelled, “I will kill you all” as he began shooting. Sandher claimed the tenth Guru told him to get his gun and punish Malhi. 

According to SF Gate, Sandher told police that Malhi had no right to deny him the right to speak and vowed to correct his wrongdoing.

Once the weapon stopped firing, the worshipers wrestled Sandher down and began beating him, police told SF Gate.

At the time of Malhi’s death, he had a wife, three children and was a popular math teacher at Skyline High School in Oakland, CBS News stated. 

Malhi’s son Satinder Malhi told SF Gate that Sandher “denied us the right to have our father present, not only at our graduation, but our weddings, the birth of children and anniversaries.”

At the 2001 trial hearing, many relatives and friends had shown up with homemade signs and buttons reading “Justice for Ajmer Singh Malhi.”

“Even in a world where mass shootings have become all too commonplace, Sandher’s actions in January 2000 still shock the conscience,” Deputy District Attorney Caleb Webster said in a prepared statement. “His spiteful, brazen killing did irreparable harm not only to those who knew and loved Mr. Malhi, but to the entire Sikh community.” 

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