A parole board decided last week that Joga Singh Sandher, convicted of murder for the 2000 killing of Ajmer Singh Malhi during a mass shooting at an El Sobrante Sikh temple, should remain in prison.
It's the second setback in recent months for Sandher in his attempt to secure early release from his 50 years-to-life sentence. In August, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Joni T. Hiramoto denied a request by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to resentence the 58-year-old to a lower term.
According to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, a CDCR parole board said Thursday, if Sandher was released, the danger he posed to the community outweighed the evidence he presented at the hearing claiming he wasn't a risk.
Sandher, who's serving his sentence in San Quentin State Prison, won't be eligible for parole again for 10 years.
On Jan. 23, 2000, a Sunday service was about to end for hundreds of people at the El Sobrante Gurdwara Sahib, the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.
At 2 p.m. Sandher -- who addressed the congregation the previous week -- was denied a request to again address the congregation. He responded by taking his wife and children out to his vehicle, retrieving an M-16 military rifle, and going back inside, yelling "I will kill you all" as he opened fire.
Sandher chased Malhi while firing his weapon, shooting another person in the knee. Sandher then shot and killed Malhi, who was trying to take cover behind pillars. Malhi's 96-year-old father disarmed Sandher before other congregation members subdued him.
Malhi was a married father of three and a math teacher at Skyline High School in Oakland, where he was also a leader in his teacher's union.
During the trial, Sandher said the tenth Guru told him to get his gun and punish Malhi. Sandher's attorney said he suffered from a delusional disorder due to the death of his father and mismanaging his failing limousine business. The court rejected the mental health defense, saying Sandher comprehended the legal and moral categories of right and wrong.