Man claims self defense in shooting at Sikh festival near Lynden

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 5, 2014 

Balwinder Nagra

Balwinder Nagra, suspect in a shooting at Sikh temple appears in Whatcom Superior Court in Bellingham, Friday morning, May 2, 2014.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

The man charged in connection with a shooting at a Lynden Sikh festival April 26 told investigators that he fired a shot in self defense, according to documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Balwinder Nagra, 41, was arrested after a fight broke out at a celebration at the Guru Nanak Gursikh gurdwara, or temple, at 176 E. Pole Road.

Nagra was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm. Under state law the term "drive-by shooting" includes shootings from the immediate area of a vehicle used to transport the suspect, the weapon or both.

According to court documents:

Nagra told deputies that when he got to the festival three men approached him and assaulted him as he sat in his convertible. He said he heard one of the men tell another to go get his gun, to which Nagra responded that he had a gun of his own. He told deputies that he fired a round in the air in self defense, but he was evasive when deputies asked about the incident.

Officers were able to find a spent .45-caliber casing about 30 yards from Nagra's vehicle, and a bullet had hit a car about 150 yards away. The trajectory of the bullet was inconsistent with Nagra's claim that he shot a round in the air, instead indicating that the shot was fired parallel to the ground from about 6 feet up. Considering the number of people in the area at the time, "Nagra created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury," according to court documents. More than 1,000 visitors were gathered at the temple for the festival.

Deputies took a handgun that was wedged between the seat and the center console of Nagra's convertible Dodge Viper, which had its top down at the time.

Nagra is prohibited from possessing a gun under an apparently unrelated no-contact order against him, according to court documents.

The men that Nagra said assaulted him haven't been identified.

Reach Zoe Fraley at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or 360-756-2803.

Reach ZOE FRALEY at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2803.

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