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Kerala-origin man shoots wife, injures 2 in US church shootout

A violent domestic quarrel stretching from California to India to New Jersey over the past year resulted in tragedy on Sunday morning...

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
November 25, 2008 11:28:19 pm

A violent domestic quarrel stretching from California to India to New Jersey over the past year resulted in tragedy on Sunday morning for families of three migrant nurses from Kottayam in central Kerala.

Pallipurath Joseph, 27, walked into the small St Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church, set up by Malayali migrants, in Clifton, New Jersey, during Sunday service and killed his estranged 24-year-old wife and wounded two others with shots to the head.

As more than 100 worshippers dived under the pews, the assailant fired four shots from a silver handgun, striking his wife, who had refused to leave the church with him; a relative who had recently taken her in; and a man who either happened upon or tried to intervene in the confrontation, the police and witnesses said.

Joseph drove away after the shoot-out and remains missing. The police have launched a manhunt.

Joseph and wife Reshma got married just a year back. Many Christian families from Kottayam are settled in the US, and often come to the state looking for brides. In particular demand are nurses, as they get jobs easily in the US. This was how Joseph came knocking on the doors of Kunnassery Kumbanakunnel James and Mary, who live in Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam. Their daughter Reshma had graduated from a nursing college in Chennai.

The match was promptly fixed and soon after the wedding, Reshma left for California with Joseph. According to her brother, Jude James, there were problems from the beginning. “On reaching California, Joseph began to torture Reshma. Last month, the couple came to Kerala along with Joseph’s father to amicably settle the differences between them. But that mission did not help,” he says. Soon after returning to Sacramento, Joseph and Reshma separated. He went to California and she moved to New Jersey to stay with the cousin who was also injured in Sunday’s shootout.

Jude says Joseph was hot-tempered, egoistic, and would drink and beat up Reshma. He would reportedly also lock her up inside their apartment.

The Clifton police confirmed that active restraining orders had been issued in California and New Jersey against Joseph on the basis of complaints by his wife. Detective Capt Robert Rowan said it appeared Joseph had driven down from California to try to force Reshma to return with him.

Also shot in the attack were Reshma’s relative, Silvy Perincheril, 47, who is the principal of the church’s Sunday school, and Dennis John Malloosseril, 23, a church director. They are both in a criticial condition.

The Malloosseril family has been residing in New Jersey for the last three decades. Dennis, 26, is their only son. According to his family, Dennis might have tried to stop Joseph from taking away Reshma, and that’s the reason he may have been shot.

Perincheril, 47, also a nurse like Reshma, migrated to the US 25 years ago after marrying Thampi, a railway employee there. They have two sons and a daughter. After Reshma left Joseph, she had been living with Perincheril, a cousin.

The church where the shootout happened is the place of worship for around 60 families of first-generation Indian immigrants and their children. They were near the end of their service, when Joseph arrived. Suja Alummoottil, 40, of Stockholm, New Jersey, said he interrupted to say he was Reshma’s husband and had come to take her home. “He was telling her, ‘I’ve been roaming around without my wife for too long’.”

with NYT report

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