ANother SHooting Massacre: Man opens fire at a Sikh temple – 6 dead, many more injured
Just weeks after a horrifying cinema shooting at Aurora Colorado, USA which claimed 12 lives and left 50+ injured, a tattooed and skinhead gunman killed six people and critically wounded three at a Sikh temple yesterday before police shot him dead in an attack officers said could have been on behalf of a violent race hate group.
Witnesses said a tall, bald, white man in his 40s opened fire just before services had begun, entering the kitchen at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee at about 10.30am as women prepared a Sunday meal.
It sent worshippers fleeing to escape the barrage. Some witnesses said he had a 9/11 tattoo, marking the September 11, 2001 attacks by Islamic militants.
Some reports suggest he was a former soldier who had recently split up with his girlfriend.
<Critical condition: The president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, was shot by the gunman and was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries>
Four people were shot dead inside the sprawling temple. Three more, including the gunman, were killed outside.
The gunman ambushed and shot a police officer who was responding to a 911 call and helping a shooting victim, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. A second officer shot and killed the gunman.
The wounded officer, a 20-year veteran, was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive. Hospital officials said two other victims, also in critical condition, were being treated.
Authorities did not release the name of the suspect. They said the shooter had used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which was recovered at the scene. Officials were tracing origin of the weapon, Ahern said.
Police surrounded and searched a grey, two-storey house in the Cudahy neighborhood, presumed to be the residence of the gunman on Sunday evening.
Generators and floodlights were set up along the middle-class block. A police source confirmed that a search warrant had been issued for the house, and a bomb squad was on the scene.
Temple member and U.S. Army Reserve combat medic Jagpal Singh, 29, said people who were at the service when the shooting broke out described to him a scene of chaos and confusion.
Worshippers scrambled to escape the gunfire, but some tragically ran in the wrong direction. Others survived the rampage by locking themselves in bathrooms, he said.
Family and friends of the victims gathered in the basement of a nearby bowling alley as they waited for their loved ones to be identified.
One victim was the temple’s president, 65-year-old Satwant Kaleka who died as he tried to ‘knife and tackle’ the shooter. Another was Parkash Singh, a priest in his thirties, and a married father-of-two.
There were reports the gunman had been in the Army. According to a woman, who said she was the mother of the shooter’s landlord, the suspect had recently broke up with his girlfriend, Patchreported.
The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh-American civil rights organisation, urged caution over the gunman’s motive while the police investigation was ongoing.
Executive director Sapreet Kaur said: ‘There have been multiple hate crime shootings within the Sikh community in recent years and the natural impulse of our community is to unfortunately assume the same in this case.
‘Let’s let law enforcement investigate the case and as new facts emerge the dialogue can change. Americans died today in a senseless act of violence and Americans of all faiths should stand in unified support with their Sikh brothers and sisters.’
SIKHS UNDER ATTACK
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Sikh community has found itself at greater risk from religiously-motivated hate crimes.
Last year, two elderly Sikhs were shot dead in the street in Sacramento, California.
A taxi driver was beaten up in the same area by attackers yelling racially-motivated abuse.
This year, the building site of a Sikh temple – a gurudwara – in Michigan was vandalized while a Sikh family in Washington received hate mail threatening violence.
Lawmakers have been so concerned in the increased number of threats made to Sikhs that they have urged the Justice Department to open an investigation.
Parkash Singh, a priest at the temple, was among the dead. Manminder Sethi who worships at the temple, told the Journal-Sentinel: ‘He was a good guy, a noble soul.’
The deceased, who was believed to be in his thirties, had lived in Oak Creek for several years and recently brought his wife, daughter and son from India to live with him in the U.S.
The tragic incident comes just two weeks after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people and an unborn baby died and 58 were injured.
Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said it wasn’t clear how many people had been shot.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said the officers had responded to a 911 call about the shooting when they were ambushed.
The officer has been taken to hospital where he is undergoing surgery although he is expected to survive.
Edwards said the officers ‘stopped a tragedy that could have been a lot worse’.
Dr Lee Biblo, the chief medical officer at the hospital said they were well prepared to treat the three seriously wounded as it is a level one trauma center.
He said one victim had suffered a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. Another had been shot multiple times in the face and extremities while the third man had been shot in the neck.