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Man arrested for assault at Turlock Sikh Temple
Sukhjit Singh Dhillon

The Turlock Police Department took a man into custody Thursday for allegedly assaulting two men outside the Sikh Temple.

Sukhjit Singh Dhillon, 58, was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats and being in possession of a dangerous weapon.

Investigators still have a few witnesses to interview and so are not releasing any information on what Dhillon may have said to warrant the threat charge, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Steve Rodrigues.

At this point in the investigation it is unknown if the alleged assault had any connection to the fight that occurred at the Sikh Temple in January.

The police department was dispatched to the Sikh Temple at 1391 Fifth Street around 5 p.m. Thursday for a report of a disturbance involving a weapon. As officers were being dispatched to the scene the suspect fled in his vehicle, but was spotted on Lander Avenue and taken into custody without incident.

The suspect and the two male victims got into a verbal altercation outside the Temple that turned violent when Dhillon allegedly pulled out an expandable baton and assaulted the two men. The men, one in his mid 40s and the other in his mid 50s did not suffer any injuries that required medical attention, according to the police department.

On Jan. 10 the Turlock Police Department responded to a large brawl at the Sikh Temple that resulted in the arrests of several individuals. The large fight inside the Temple was captured on cell phone videos and showed individuals punching, pushing, and kicking and one man, later identified as Sandeep Singh, 38, of Ceres, allegedly swinging a ceremonial sword at several people. Another cell phone video of the fight showed Gurdev Singh, 47, of Madera allegedly striking two people with a Chimta. A Chimta is a religious musical instrument that is shaped like a long set of tongs with pointed ends. Two people were struck in the attack, both sustaining non life-threatening injuries.

The altercations involving the Sikh Temple members stems from a dispute that started with the dismissal of Temple priest Attar Singh in 2013. The dismissal was made by the Temple’s board of directors, a body elected by the Temple populace. The tension over the dismissal erupted into a physical fight outside the Temple on June 2, 2013. A few weeks after the fight a group of Temple members took over the Temple by seizing control of all the records, the office and changing the locks on the Temple doors.

The board of directors sought to regain control by filing a civil complaint in court. The complaint claimed the change in leadership was invalid because it had not been done through an election. For two years the issue was argued in the courtroom before a ruling was finally issued. The court ruled in favor of the board and ordered the defendants to cede control of the Temple. The court also barred the named defendants from serving as officers or directors at the Temple until April.