7 Killed, 3 Critically Injured in Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting
At least seven people were killed and three critically injured during morning services Sunday by at least one gunman at the Oak Creek Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., near Milwaukee, in what law officials are investigating as an incidence of “domestic terrorism.”
None of the seven deceased nor those injured have yet been identified, but law officials said that one of the injured was a policeman who exchanged fire with the gunman. The injured are being treated at a Milwaukee hospital.
A witness at the scene told local reporters that temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka has been shot as he was trying to tackle the gunman. Other unconfirmed reports say that the temple priest also may have been among those shot.
Police are combing the nearby woods to see if any more suspects were hiding there, after some witnesses told them there was more than one shooter. Police evacuated the temple shortly after they arrived on the scene. Reports say several women were preparing food for the worshippers in the temple’s kitchen.
According to one news report, the shooter was a tall, white, heavily built male, with a “9/11” tattoo on his arm. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt. Police found two handguns inside the temple.
An officer who responded to the scene exchanged fire with the suspected gunman in the parking lot. The veteran officer was shot multiple times. Another officers shot the gunman.
Women and children were gathering for a meal before an 11:30 a.m. service when the shooting occurred. There are about 500 members of congregation attending, said officials.
The FBI is working with local police on the investigation.
Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker immediately issued a statement: “While the situation in Oak Creek continues to develop rapidly, we are working with the FBI and local law enforcement. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.”
India’s Ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao, called the shootings a “tragic incident.” She described Sikhs as hard working and generous.
“Sikhs across the country today mourn with the families that have lost loved ones in the Milwaukee area Sikh Temple tragedy,” said Amar Shergill, a local attorney and spokesperson for the American Sikh Political Action Committee. “This is not the first time that our community has been forced to deal with assaults and murderous attacks, particularly since 9/11."
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) condemned the shooting and said in a statement: "Houses of worship, like the gurdwara, are places of peace. Attacks at any of the nation’s houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans. This type of crime strikes at the very foundation of religious tolerance, the principle upon which this country was built."