Three men have been arrested in connection with the killing of ISKCON youth Harish Roy, who received a fatal shot to the head when the Atlanta convenience store he was working at on March 22 was robbed.
Alleged gunman Yusef Cantrell, 27, and getaway driver Xstavius Shreve, 30, were arrested by Atlanta Police on March 27 and 31 respectively. According to Atlanta Police spokesman Eric Schwartz, the last suspect, 28-year-old Damian Glover, turned himself into authorities at the Fulton County Jail after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Video from surveillance cameras showed that Cantrell and Glover entered the store just before 8pm and waited for customers to leave. Cantrell then jumped through the narrow window opening of the cashier’s cage and shot Harish as he tried to duck and put his hands up in defense.
The funeral service for Harish, who was only 24 when he died, was held on March 28 at the Wages & Sons Funeral Home in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Friends and fellow devotees paid their last respects before Harish’s body was cremated as per Indian custom. A memorial service was held at the Atlanta ISKCON temple the following day, at which devotees chanted prayers for his soul and shared fond memories.
A second memorial service was held at ISKCON’s headquarters in Mayapur, India, where Harish attended gurukula school for many years. One hundred devotees attended, offering prayers and sacred tulasi leaves to a deity of Narasimhadeva in honor of Harish, whose photo lay at the feet of the deity.
Well-wishers and friends attending remembered Harish as having a lively and loving nature, and being an excellent example for ISKCON’s younger generation.
“We are all shocked,” said Mayapur resident Sudarshan Dasa. “We feel a great loss, but we will keep Harish forever in our hearts.”
Fellow Mayapur gurukula alumni Dridha Vrata Dasa recalled: “I remember Harish being so helpful to us western boys, showing us how to wash our clothes, keep clean and maintain our devotional practice.
“Physically strong as a bull, he would be often do the toughest of the chores, with a big smile on his face. His strength was probably his most familiar quality. He was undefeatable in almost any physical activity whether it be arm-wrestling, martial arts and sports. I’m sure everyone who knows him will agree that, if he had a fair chance to fight back, it would be those criminals dead instead of Harish.
“He was also the supervisor of the ashram I was in and was very cooperative, patient and never enforced authority on anyone. By seeing his exemplary qualities and actions, most of us came to respect him, although he was younger in age to some. He was also very determined for a youth of his age. When he came to gurukula in the beginning, he hardly knew a word of English but, within a short time, he was fluently communicating with everyone. He was steady in his schooling, regular in his devotional practice, and quick at learning anything.
“It is so unfortunate to lose such a wonderful devotee and friend at such a young age. I pray that, by the Lord’s grace, he is in a better place now.”
As the sole bread-winner in his family, Harish had been working to send money back home to his mother when he was murdered. To keep his mission intact, friends Uttam, Jagannatha and Atlanta temple president Vedasara Dasa have set up a fund for Harish’s family and are asking devotees who want to help to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
On June 5th 2009, the Atlanta Temple Panihati Festival will open with a 24-hour bhajan session in Harish’s honor, since he loved chanting the Lord’s names so much.