CA kidnapping: Community remembers family killed, who immigrated to US with 'American dream'

"This is a senseless killing of a family who wanted to make an honest living and working hard to make their ends meet."

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ByJ.R. Stone via KGO logo
Friday, October 7, 2022
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Hundreds gathered in Merced County to remember the California family kidnapped, killed and left in a field by a former employee.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Thursday night, hundreds remembered the Merced County family killed and left in a field.

The family was part of the Sikh community which is in a bit of shock over what happened.

At that vigil, children could be seen holding candles in memory of the family that was first kidnapped Monday, then found dead in an almond orchard Wednesday.

"Our family just lost four precious souls today," said a cousin of one of the victims.

RELATED: CA kidnapping: Suspect worked for family, baby was left to die, family spokesperson says

That cousin spoke to remember 8-month-old girl Aroohi Dheri, her parents and her uncle.

"They were a very hard working family. They always come to the temple, to the prayer, helpful to the community, always like to give back," said a family friend.

The family was a part of the Sikh community and immigrated to the country in the early 2000s, eventually settling permanently in California.

"This is like the typical immigrant story, typical American dream. Came here working hard, paying their dues, paying their taxes. This has shaken our whole community to our core. I can't comprehend, there are just no words to put in," said Rajkaranbir Singh of Punjabi Radio USA which is based in San Jose and Fresno.

RELATED: CA family kidnapping: Chilling new video shows suspect take 2 zip-tied family members, mom and baby

Thursday's vigil was the first of four to be held in Merced. One for each of the victims. Those in the Sikh community across the state say it's tragic knowing that this family came to the country for a better life, and then this.

"Now when they come over here and work hard and now this. This is a senseless killing of a family who wanted to make an honest living and working hard to make their ends meet," said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs for Justice.

"Thank you all for coming, showing us that you're with us we're very thankful to you with heavy heart it's a little bit hard to speak."

"Hope this incident, this nightmare won't happen to anyone in the whole world. That's what I pray, amen," said a victim's cousin.

Police haven't yet said how all of those in the family died but the suspect was seen on surveillance video with a gun during the kidnapping. Those we spoke with Thursday night want to know how a former violent convict was able to get his hands on a firearm.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help bring financial relief to the family and to support the upbringing and education of their children. To donate, visit here.

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