Fresno police looking into first homicide of 2016 possibly being hate crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police said they're looking into the possibility that the first homicide of 2016 was a hate crime.

Gurcharan Singh Gill, 68, was stabbed to death while he worked at a Central Fresno convenience store on new year's day.

Candles, cards, and cuddly dolls send a message of mourning at the convenience store where Gill spent the final moments of his life. Gill was a fixture at Shields Express, and after she left two flower buds at the doorstep, customer Melissa Aranjo told us she'll miss his calming presence. "I could be mad and I'd come over here and it would be different. He could put a smile on my face."

The smiles are gone now because a customer found Gill stabbed to death inside the store Friday afternoon. Police collected several pieces of evidence, and with no apparent witnesses to the crime itself, one piece of evidence stands out. "Obviously, we have video from the store itself. We're reviewing that. We're also working on enhancing that video," explained Lt. Burke Farrah, Fresno Police Department.

Investigators are also looking for any other video from the area Friday afternoon and anyone who may have seen something.

In light of other recent attacks against Sikhs mistaken for Muslims, police are looking into the possibility of the stabbing being a hate crime. But Gill didn't wear a turban and officers don't believe the attack was aimed at Islam. "This is a convenience store. The motive may have been robbery. We've also seen attacks in the past where the motive was not religious-based but was mental illness," said Farrah.

Gill's family said the 68-year-old was only working now to put his son through medical school.
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