Film crew aims to help solve Elk Grove killings
BY TILLIE FONG – TFONG@SACBEE.COM
04/21/2014 9:51 PM
On the afternoon of March 4, 2011, Sikh grandfathers Surinder Singh and his friend Gurmej Atwal were taking a break from their daily walk along East Stockton Boulevard when they were shot. Singh, 67, died at the scene, while Atwal, 78, succumbed to his wounds six weeks later.
The case, which was investigated as a possible hate crime by the U.S. Department of Justice, drew national attention. The victims’ families and others believed that the two men were targeted by a gunman who saw them as Muslim because they wore thick beards and turbans.
“It’s this one unsolved homicide left in the city of Elk Grove,” said Detective Kevin Papineau, who has worked the case from the beginning.
But Monday, he was hopeful that a re-enactment of the crime that was being filmed by a local production company, Jackson Inc., may breathe new life into the case.
“It’s one more opportunity for us to reach out to the community that we haven’t touched before,” he said. “It can be tremendously helpful if it gets us that one tip that we are looking for.”
Jackson Inc. is the creation of two brothers, Cory Jackson, 43, and Craig Jackson, 40, both of Sacramento. The company is working on a half-hour show similar to “America’s Most Wanted” that would air on Sacramento-area broadcast channels and focus on local unsolved crimes.
“There are a lot of cases that need attention like this,” said Cory Jackson, who also created the 916 Hollywood Initiative several years ago to promote film production in the Sacramento region. He said the company decided to showcase the deaths of Singh and Atwal for their first production because it was such a high-profile case.
Despite a reward of over $60,000, which was put together by different religious groups, including Muslims and Jews, the case remained unsolved. “We have gone back through over work we had done before and looked at old information,” Papineau said.
Monday, part of East Stockton Boulevard east of Highway 99 was blocked off so that filming could take place.
About halfway south on Stockton, a white pickup truck was parked in front of the spot where Singh and Atwal were shot. A small memorial, consisting of two white crosses chalked on the retaining wall and three candles, offers the only clues that a crime had occurred there.
“If you didn’t know where to look, you wouldn’t even know it’s there,” Papineau said.
On Monday, two amateur actors – the father and uncle of producer AJ Singh, 26, of Sacramento – were playing the parts of the murdered men.Read more