Two more teenagers have been arrested on charges of murdering an Indian computer scientist outside his home at Old Bridge in New Jersey, US, taking the total number of suspects held in the case to five.
49-year-old Divyendu Sinha, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus, was brutally attacked by three teenagers last Friday. He succumbed to his injuries on Monday.
The New Jersey police late Thursday night arrested two more boys, aged 17 and 16. Previously on Monday, three other suspects were arrested. Names of none of the assailants have been released, as they are being treated as juveniles.
Charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit an aggravated assault and criminal mischief were also filed against all five teens after investigators learned they were involved in a separate unrelated attack before beating Sinha, the police said.
"The initial focus of the probe has been to determine who was responsible for the murder of Sinha," Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J Kaplan said.
"Now that five individuals have been arrested and charged, we will be making every effort to assess whether racial bias played a role in the attack and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges," Kaplan said.
According to police, the three male teenagers attacked Sinha, author of several books on computer imaging, when he and his sons were going for a walk. His sons were not seriously injured in the attack.
The three individuals, each said to be 17 years, were arrested soon thereafter and charged with homicide.
Sinha's death has sparked concern in the large Indian American community in Old Bridge city.
A delegation of Indian-Americans this week met township officials, who alleged that there have been increasing instances of such crimes against them.
Assemblyman Upendra J Chivukula, Deputy Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, spoke with Mayor of Old Bridge James Phillips and Kaplan to discuss the ongoing case.
"This attack is horrific. My heart goes out to Sinha's family. This random act of violence reminds us how precious life is. I want to thank Prosecutor Kaplan and the police in their quick response and investigation," Chivukula said in a statement.
Chivukula said according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office, the attack appears to be random and unprovoked, as the assailants had minutes earlier attempted to attack a Caucasian motorist who was able to escape.
"I have been in contact with the mayor, police chief and county prosecutor to make sure justice is served. I will continue to follow this case," the statement said.
Meanwhile, friends of Sinha have set up a scholarship fund to help his family. His memorial service early drew some 500 people.
A memorial website detailing Sinha's biography and research has been developed at www.divyendusinha.com.
Sinha was well known and highly regarded in academic and professional communities both in India and in the US, the website's homepage says.
A 1982 graduate from IIT Kharagpur, he later attended Stevens Institute of Technology where he earned both a Masters Degree and a PhD. He then taught at Stevens and at CUNY. Later he moved to the industry and was currently working at Siemens (New York).
"Dr Sinha was a devoted and loving husband and father who cherished the time he spent with his family. His friends will remember his generosity and that he was always ready to welcome them into his home," the website says.
"His students remember him as a passionate and gifted researcher who made many theoretical and applied contributions to fields including image processing, robotics, computer networking and graph theory. He was always committed to helping them reach their highest potential. He is the author of numerous technical papers and several books."