An Indian origin man died after being shot by police in a Sikh temple in Ohio as he approached them with a meat cleaver.
Ravinder Nijjar, 41 of Bedford Ohio, was shot on Thursday at the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Temple. Men from the temple flagged down a police officer on patrol after they saw Nijjar chasing two priests with a 10-12 inches long knife inside the building.
Upon entering the temple, police noticed Nijjar coming down some steps brandishing the meat cleaver. The police shot Nijjar when he refused to drop the knife and moved toward them with the weapon.
"The officer yelled, Stop, drop the knife, drop the knife. The individual kept coming toward him and he shot him," Bedford Police Chief Greg Duber told WOIO-TV.
Nijjar was a member of the temple but had no religious motivation for his threatening behaviour, he said. A total of five shots were fired, three of which hit him. He was pronounced dead at the Bedford Medical Center.
The officer has been placed on the standard three-day administrative leave.
"It happened in a place of worship. It is even disturbing for anyone or everyone," temple member Baltek Singh said adding that Nijjar had never behaved in such a manner before.
"Some wonder whether the police could have used a Taser or some other non-lethal weapon to stop him," he said.
Nijjar showed up at the temple shortly before 4:30 am as worshippers were preparing for morning prayers. "The whole community is very much shocked. We lost a member of the congregation and somebody lost a son," member and former president of the temple Kamaljit Singh Janda said.
Members of the temple are questioning why the police had to shoot Nijjar, whose family has been part of the community since the late 1970s or early 1980s, Janda added.
Duber said of the two officers who reached the temple, Nijjar was approaching the one with the gun. "The officer with the gun was confronted -- and surprised -- by a man with a meat cleaver about 10 feet away. He did what he had to do," Duber said.
The police chief said his department would investigate the shooting and turn over the information to the city's law director, who will decide if the case should be presented over to a grand jury.
Nijjar has a police record, which mostly involves incidents of intoxication, fighting and acting strangely. He was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2008 and sentenced to 18 months probation. While in jail, he was referred for a mental-health consultation.
The temple has had a run-in with the police before. In 2004, feud among temple members over how to run the temple and whether leaders should wear beards and turbans brought police to the location 11 times in nine months.