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Iowa family of four found dead with gunshot wounds

NBC News logo NBC News 6/17/2019 Alex Johnson
a car parked on the side of a building: IMAGE: West Des Moines, Iowa, shooting scene © NBC News Channel IMAGE: West Des Moines, Iowa, shooting scene

An Iowa Department of Public Safety employee, his wife and their two sons who were found dead in their home in a Des Moines neighborhood had been shot, investigators said Sunday.

Police in West Des Moines said the bodies of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, a 15-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy were found in their home on Saturday morning. Autopsies were pending to determine the official causes of death, but police said all had gunshots wounds.

The Department of Public Safety said Sunday that Chandrasekhar Sunkara, who was known as Chandra, was a civilian information technology professional in the agency's Technology Services Bureau.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Sunkaras," it said.

Shrikar Somayajula, a co-owner of and partner in A Grade Ahead, an after-school enrichment academy in Des Moines, said the boys, whose names haven't been released because they were juveniles, were star students who represented the school in national scholastic competitions and "wanted to go to one of the elite Ivy League colleges."

The boys were "really bright children, really heads down," Somayajula told NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines, adding, "The family was a very friendly family, so it's really painful."

"You don't see something like this happen in the Indian community, let alone a heinous act like this, he said. "We have more questions than answers now as to why this happened, and we will probably never find out."

Police said other family members, two adults and two children, were staying in the home as guests. When the bodies were discovered, one of the relatives ran outside looking for help and found a passerby, who called 911.

No suspect was reported to be in custody, but police said they were confident that there was no threat to the community.

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