The father of a local convenience store owner gunned down two weeks ago spoke about the events preceding his death and explained why the son confronted the man who would take his life.
“God take care of my son, that’s my heart,” Bakhsis “KK” Singh said. “I’m his dad. This is my blood.”
Akshrpreet “AK” Singh, 23, died following an altercation with Ronald Keith Cooper, 42, of McComb, outside VK Kwik Mart on Presley Boulevard just before 10 p.m. Nov. 8. Police said Singh threatened Cooper with a broken beer bottle, then pulled a .357 Magnum loaded with .38 Special ammunition.
The police department hasn’t filed charges in the case and investigators said it’s their belief Cooper acted in self-defense.
District Attorney Dee Bates said the case will go before the grand jury whether the police department files charges or not. The grand jury is tasked with determining whether charges are appropriate. That is standard procedure in instances of death involving violence even if investigators choose not to file charges.
But Singh said his son confronted Ronald Keith Cooper, of McComb, outside the convenience store in defense of one of his employees. Singh said the confrontation began at his Nelson Street convenience store in the Algiers neighborhood.
Police said shortly before the altercation on Presley Boulevard, Cooper argued with a cashier at the Nelson Street store, irritated about a lack of cold beer. Police said Cooper cursed the cashier, the owner of the store and the police after arguing with the cashier and said he would take his business elsewhere.
Singh said Cooper threatened to harm the cashier and the owner of the store, AK Singh, after the cashier threatened to call the police. Singh said the cashier was frightened and felt threatened and called AK Singh to tell him what happened. Then AK Singh left his Summit Street store, Love’s Kwik Mart, and met the cashier at the Nelson Street store. He spoke to the cashier about the altercation, which had taken place only moments before, reviewed surveillance video of the interaction and became upset.
KK Singh said he doesn’t know how his son found out where Cooper was headed, but that he didn’t intend to kill Cooper at the Presley Boulevard store. He said his son loved his employees and treated them as family, so he was naturally upset after Cooper threatened his cashier on Nelson Avenue.
Singh said he doesn’t understand why nobody called the police to the scene while the fight on Presley Boulevard was underway. He said the fight went on 10 minutes before shots were fired and there were witnesses at the scene. He questioned why clerks in VK Kwik Mart, who have access to surveillance footage of the parking lot, didn’t call the police earlier. He said on Summit Street, if any altercation crops up outside his store, he notifies police immediately to safely handle the situation. Singh said if somebody had alerted police, his son might still be alive.
“I just want justice, nothing more. But I’m not sure how,” Singh said. “They’ve done wrong by him.”
He said Cooper acted beyond self-defense in shooting his son. He said his son was shot at least three times, once in the back as he attempted to run away, then beaten with the revolver. Singh said he believes it was overkill and a lack of charges represents racial bias, as his family is Indian.
“God will bless him, God will take care of him,” Singh said. “God will give me justice.”
Now, KK Singh is working on securing visas for AK’s family members, who live in India, but said the process is difficult. He said he hopes AK’s family can attend services in the United States.
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Many of AK’s friends spoke highly of him, describing the man as outgoing, caring and generous. They said he looked out for people he cared about, a group that included most anybody you’d meet. They said AK will be sorely missed throughout his community.
“He was a good fella,” said Tim Muer of McComb. “I used to see him every day. I just couldn’t believe it. He’s never mad like that.”
“He was great, he was outgoing and he loved people. He really cared about the kids, he was always helping out the little kids,” said Julius Bailey of McComb. “It’s really difficult. I think about him every day. A lot of people loved AK. He will be missed.”
Anton Reed, of McComb, said AK left a lasting impressing on his life.
“He was a very good man, he gave me a job cleaning the store and helping out with the parking lot,” Reed said. “He used to really look out for me.”
Reed said people who know AK hope to see justice,
“I really hated what happened to him,” Reed said. “I really don’t think it’s right.”
“He’s like a brother to me,” said Sonny King of McComb, worked with AK Singh.
“He was such a good person, he had a big heart. He was friendly,” King said. “He was always helping people.”