Family members say the shooting death of Fairfield man was a “horrific accident” and believe his wife, who was charged after the incident, will either be acquitted or have the first-degree misdemeanor dropped.
Subha Katel was charged with negligent homicide after handling a handgun when it fired and shot her husband, Tika Katel, in the head on Saturday before he died on Monday. Court and police documents indicate the 43-year-old was unfamiliar with firearms, and had never seen or held one prior to Saturday.
Fairfield Police Sgt. Pete Lagemann said the department consulted with the city prosecutor and Butler County Prosecutor’s Office before he filed the misdemeanor charge against Subha Katel.
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Police say the fatal shooting happened when Subha Katel handled the handgun of a cousin who was visiting Tika Katel’s ill mother at their Sigmon Way home Saturday. It fired and the bullet struck the 57-year-old in the head.
Subha Katel, 43, is charged with the first-degree misdemeanor because she was negligent in touching the weapon without knowing if it would go off, said Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser.
“She had a duty to find out before she touched the firearm,” he said.
Tika Katel’s funeral service was held Wednesday afternoon at Spring Grove Funeral Home in Cincinnati.
“They are one of the happiest families,” said Khagen Ghimirey, Subha Katel’s brother. “They loved each other.”
The Katels moved to Fairfield less than a year ago, and they were living the American Dream, he said Tuesday. For most of their 26-year marriage, they worked at the same places and the same shifts, then come home and worked in the garden together. Indra Katel, their 21-year-old son, said his father also built furniture for the family.
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“He’d work 10-hour shifts and come home and work at the garden or made beds,” said son Indra Katel, 21, “He used to do everything.”
While the family continues to mourn Tika Katel, they are supportive of his widow.
“She is also a victim,” said Anuj Ghimirey, a family member from Harrisburg, Penn.
Fairfield police officers were told that just after 3 p.m. Saturday, that several family members were in the living room when “in a matter of seconds, Subha Katel saw the gun (holstered in Subash Katel’s waistband) and grabbed the gun from the holster. As she was grabbing the gun … Subha Katel asked Subash Katel if the gun was a toy or real,” according to the court documents. Subha Katel told police she was unsure if the weapon fired as she handed it back or if she dropped it.
Multiple 911 calls were made, including one by a 9-year-old family member who saw the entire incident.
“He keeps telling me he tries to get the image out of his head, but when he closes his eyes it keeps coming back to him,” Anuj Ghimirey said.
It’s rare to see weapons that are not possessed by law enforcement officers in Nepal, the family’s native country, Khagen Ghimirey said.
Subha Katel is scheduled to appear in Fairfield Municipal Court on Aug. 21 with her court-appointed attorney, Tina Barrett.