Wisconsin : Tragedy in Gurudwara

     “Because of the heroic action of our officers, they stopped this from being worse than it could have been.”

    Edwards says the officers responded to a 911 call, where they found a victim. Their officer, a 20-year-veteran, was ambushed and shot multiple times by the suspect. The officer is in surgery now. “We expect him to recover,” Edwards says.

     “Another officer on the scene was engaged by the suspect,” Edwards says. “Our officer engaged that individual and that individual is deceased from actions our officer took. … It could have been a lot worse.”

     “It has taken all day to clear the area… we have numerous individuals that are deceased at this point.”

      Edwards says the FBI will be handling criminal incident.

    “We’re treating it as a domestic terrorist type incident.” Edwards said there were seven deceased and “three injured including our officer.”

The chief has no info on the suspect: “I don’t have any information for you on the suspect.”

The chief takes questions:

    He’s asked what he means by “domestic terrorism”: “Domestic terrorism is somebody who’s doing some active terrorism within the US. Not from another country.”

     He’s asked about the weapon: “The weapon is not yet known. Not clear if multiple.”

He’s asked if the temple is clear: “No one left in the temple. That is a crime scene.”

Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi speaks briefly: The city is outraged. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims. We are thankful for the officers who responded. He pledges cooperation

5.26pm: The Oak Creek police chief described how the suspect in the shooting was killed.

    A 20-year veteran of the police force responded to a call of a shooting at the temple and found a victim outside. While treating the victim the officer was ambushed by the gunman and shot multiple times. A second officer then shot the gunman dead.

The officer shot by the gunman is in surgery and is expected to recover.

     The chief, John Edwards, said he has no information on the suspect but described the incident as a “domestic terrorist-type incident,” meaning perpetrated by a US citizen within the United States.

     5.34pm: Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said three were wounded in the shooting, including the veteran police officer who was among the first to respond.

Among those who were shot was the president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, who was taken to a hospital.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal
 has reported that the temple president, Satwant Kaleka, was shot and transported to the hospital.

5.36pm: Police Chief Edwards said he had no information on the suspect, who was killed at the scene, in what he called an act of “domestic terrorism.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quotes a temple member on the shooter’s identity:

One of the temple’s committee members, Ven Boba Ri, said that based on communication with people inside the temple, the shooter was a white male in his 30s.

5.40pm: Oak Creek community members are organizing a vigil tonight for the victims of the shooting and their families and loved ones.

    A Facebook page for the vigil is here. A message on the page calls on community members to “come together for a vigil and spread peace and show support for the victims and family members of the Sikh Temple Shootings.”

The vigil is scheduled for 8pm at Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee.

5.46pm: Local law enforcement met with leaders of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek last year following a series of disturbing crimes apparently targeting Sikhs in the area.

The Oak Creek Patch reported last August:

State Rep. Josh Zepnick and District Attorney John Chisholm visited the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, 7512 S. Howell Ave., on Sunday to discuss public safety issues in the Sikh community.

Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the Sikh Temple, requested the meeting after the July 4 melee in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, according to a news release from Zepnick’s office. Those incidents included the looting of at least one Sikh-owned business.

Singh Kaleka told local officials that what was seen in Riverwest has become too common at gas stations and convenience stores owned by members of the Sikh community. Many businesses and workers have been the victims of robberies and vandalism, he said.

(via @BuzzFeedAndrew)

6.00pm: A man interviewed outside the temple has told local WISN newsthat the shooting victims may have been members of the temple who came early to help prepare a large community lunch to be held after services.

Two children were the first to see the shooter outside the temple and the first to warn temple members what was happening, the witness said.

    “It was a boy and a girl who were sitting outside. The girl was from the family who was hosting the lunch today. The first shot that the shooter took was just like some firework [the children thought].

    “He shot the two people who actually came out of the cab and they were entering the church. These two kids [ran inside and alerted members].”

     The witness said he spoke to the children and they described the gunman:

    “One guy, blue pants, white shirt, white guy, little heavy, who was taking these shots.”

    “People who got injured were mostly employees of the church” who’d arrived early to prepare lunch, he said.

The name of the interviewee was not supplied by WISN.

6.03pm: The man interviewed by WISN news who had been inside the temple said that after the shooting started “it was chaos.”

“There are four sections to the church,” the interviewee said. “One for the shoes. One where we worship. One for community lunch where everybody sits and eats food.”

“There were some families who locked themselves in the bathroom. There were some who locked themselves in the kitchen area.”

The man says he does not think the shooting was motivated by hatred of religion:

“I don’t think this person has anything to do with religion. He just came out and started shooting like all other psychos we have heard about who have done other things in the past.”

6.10pm: Local news station WISN is at Froedtert hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A reporter says one victim was shot in the neck and is in surgery. One is shot in abdomen and chest. One is shot in face and arm.

6.14pm: Residents are being evacuated from the neighborhood of Cudahy, Wisconsin, WISN reports.

Milwaukee police and the FBI are active in the area. Residents have not been told why they are being evacuated, WISN reported.

Cudahy is near Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. WISN speculated that police were investigating the suspect’s residence.

6.21pm: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted Sunday that he told President Obama that the FBI was “part of an excellent team effort of local, state & federal authorities on site.”

Appreciated the call from the President. It is a sad day for the Sikh community, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and America.

Walker’s office later released this statement:

While the situation in Oak Creek continues to develop rapidly, we are working with the FBI and local law enforcement. I became aware of the situation late this morning and continue to receive updated briefings.

Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.

At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends.

Tonette and I ask everyone to join us in praying for the victims and their families, praying for the safety of our law enforcement and first responder professionals and praying for strength and healing for this entire community and our state.

6.36pm: The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh American civil rights organization in the U.S., has released a statement with background information about the temple, or Gudwara, in Oak Creek:

The Gudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was founded in 1997 and had over 400 peaceful worshipers that worked and lived in the greater Milwaukee area. The Gudwara, known as being a wonderful neighbor, had come to represent the valued contributions of the Sikh faith in a community where Sikhism was understood to be another contributing fabric in the cloth of American plurality.

The impulse is to assume that the attack is a hate crime, coalition director Sapreet Kaur is quoted as saying:

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.

The coalition statement supplies statistics on Sikhism:

With over 25 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, with over 500,000 followers in the U.S. For more information on Sikhism please visit our website here.

     6.41pm: Jaisal Noor has put together a report for Democracy Now! onviolence and harassment against the Sikh community since 9/11.

The violence began directly after the 9/11 attacks, on Sept. 15, 2001, when Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner, was murdered in Mesa, Arizona, by a man who apparently wanted revenge for the attacks and associated Sikhism, which originates in India, with the mutant Islam associated with the attacks, with its roots in Saudi Arabia.

6.47pm: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that law enforcement authorities have arrived outside of a home in Cudahy, Wisc., a town about 5 miles north of Oak Creek. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also reportedly outside the home.

7.00pm: We’re going to wrap up our live blog coverage of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We have just published an updated news item here. Here’s a summary of where things stand:

• A gunman killed six victims and wounded three, including a police officer, at the temple before being shot dead by a second police officer. The three wounded were being treated at hospital and were expected to survive.

• Authorities were at the scene of a home in the Milwaukee area believed to be connected with the shooter.

• The gunman was described by a man who spoke to eye witnesses as white, in his 30s, “a little heavy,” wearing blue pants and a white shirt. He is believed to have acted alone. Police said “weapons” were recovered inside the temple but had no further information.

• A man at the temple told local news station WISN that two children saw the suspect shoot two people exiting a taxi outside the temple. The children, who were unharmed, then ran inside to warn congregants about the shooter.

• The Sikh Coalition noted an impulse to assume the act was a hate crime. Sikhs have regularly been singled out for hate crime attacks since 9/11.

Please visit the Guardian US home page for further updates.


IN a clear case of racism and home grown terrorism six innocent Sikhs were killed and three wounded in a deliberate killing by a white man .This is not the first time that Sikhs have been targetted by white Americans.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Seven dead in shooting at Sikh temple in Wisconsin

By Brendan O'Brien

OAK CREEK, Wisconsin (Reuters) – A gunman killed six people and critically wounded three at a Sikh temple during Sunday services before police shot him dead in an attack that authorities are treating as an act of domestic terrorism.

A distraught women is helped to a car outside of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin August 5, 2012. A shooting during Sunday services at the temple left at least seven people dead, including a gunman, and at least three critically wounded, police and hospital officials said. REUTERS/Tom Lynn

Shooting_2_20120805140026_JPG shooting_1_20120805140011_JPG

     Witnesses said the gunman opened fire when he entered the kitchen at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee at about 10:30 a.m. CDT (1530 GMT) as women prepared a Sunday meal, sending worshippers fleeing to escape the barrage.

     The suspect was a bald, white man, approximately 40 years old, said Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities did not release his identity.

     Four people were shot dead inside the sprawling temple. Three, 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.

Edwards said he had no identification for the shooter nor information on what kind of weapon or weapons he had. The victims’ identities and descriptions were not made public.

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.

     Law enforcement personnel surrounded and searched a gray, two-storey house in the Cudahy neighbourhood 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.

Singh said the eyewitnesses described the shooter as a white man who was either shave-headed or bald.


     Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is overseeing the probe into shootings, Edwards said.

      “We’re treating this as a domestic terrorist incident,” he told reporters. Officials had no details about a possible motive.

Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital said three male victims included one who had been shot in the abdomen, one in the extremities and face, and a third who was hit in the neck.

      The Oak Creek shooting was the latest in a series of suburban U.S. gun rampages. Organizations fighting gun violence rate Wisconsin’s gun safety laws from low to moderate. There are no limits on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, nor on the possession or transfer of assault weapons, according to the Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence.

      Sunday’s attack came just over two weeks after a gunman opened fire at a theatre in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58. In January 2011, then-congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt in which six people were killed and 13 were wounded in Tucson, Arizona.

     “The gunman is worse than the one at the theatre a couple of weeks ago because he targeted an entire community,” said Jagatjit Sidhu, who was among dozens of temple members and onlookers gathered near the sealed off temple.

     Some witnesses at the scene had said there was more than one gunman, but Edwards said reports of multiple gunmen were common in incidents that involved only one shooter.

     “We believe there was one but we can’t be sure,” he said. Officers finished sweeping the temple only after hours of searching, and Edwards said the investigation was just starting.

       President Barack Obama said he was “deeply saddened” and pledged his administration’s commitment to fully investigate the shooting.

      Obama was briefed by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and FBI director Bob Mueller and told the situation at the temple was “under control.”

      “The president said that he wanted to make sure that as we denounce this senseless act of violence we also underscore how much our country has been enriched by our Sikh community,” the White House said in a statement.


     The Indian embassy in Washington said it was in touch with the National Security Council about the shooting and an      Indian diplomat had been sent to the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

    The Sikh faith is the fifth-largest in the world, with more than 30 million followers. It includes belief in one God and that the goal of life is to lead an exemplary existence.

      The temple in Oak Creek, south of Milwaukee, was founded in October 1997 and has a congregation of 350 to 400 people. There are an estimated 500,000 or more Sikhs in the United States.

      Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 by Islamist militants, Sikhs have sometimes been confused publicly with Muslims because of their turban headdress and beards.

      Members of the Milwaukee Sikh community complained to police and a state representative last year about an upturn in robberies and vandalism at Sikh-owned gas stations and stores.

In September 2001, a Sikh gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was shot dead by a man who was said to be seeking revenge on Muslims for the hijacked plane attacks on the United States.

Phoenix police said they were in contact with local Sikh leaders and had increased patrol presence around the three temples in the city until further notice.

     New York police said they were increasing security at Sikh temples as a precaution. There are no known threats against temples in the city, they said in a statement.

    Sapreet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition civil rights organization, said Sikhs had been the target of several hate-crime shootings in the United States in recent years.

       “The natural impulse of our community is to unfortunately assume the same in this case,” he said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Writing by Ian Simpson and Chris Michaud; Editing by Anthony Boadle)



Local Sikhs react to shooting
Faithful pray for victims

Updated: Sunday, 05 Aug 2012, 9:52 PM CDT
Published : Sunday, 05 Aug 2012, 7:27 PM CDT

Kelly Schlicht, FOX 11 News

     MENASHA – Local Sikhs at this temple in Menasha cut their worship services short Sunday, their private prayers and frightened concerns going to those who may have been involved in the shooting in Oak Creek.

    “Maybe my friend’s there, maybe my uncle’s there. I don’t know what happened there but I’m begging right now please help us and stay with us,” asked Bhagwant Singh Balli, the priest at the the Sikh Temple of the Fox Valley.

    Bhagwant Singh Balli says members of the congregation found out about the attack on the temple near Milwaukee shortly after it happened. He and other temple leaders broke the news to the faithful.

    “We heard the news and we were very saddened. We shortened the service and encouraged all members to go home and be in a safe place and pray to god that everything works out,” said Kamaljit Singh Paul, the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Menasha temple.

    The priest at the temple in Menasha says he’s been here for about six years and they’ve never received any threats or had any acts of violence.

    As a precaution, Menasha police were called to check on the temple Sunday morning. Everything was ok.

     A Sikh organization in Milwaukee says after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, four acts of violence were reported against Sikhs in the Milwaukee area. Local Sikhs want others to know their beliefs, and their message of non-violence.

    “I want to explain to everyone that we are not Muslim. We are Sikh community,” explained Balli, pointing out a common misconception. “We try to live peacefully and we give them message to live peace. This is our main congregation meaning.”

    The leaders of this temple say the word “Sikh” means student—One who is always learning. Now they wait anxiously to learn the full impact of this tragic situation on their community statewide.

     There’s a hotline number for family and friends of potential victims to call for more information. That’s 1-888-298-1964.

    Local Sikh leaders say they’ll be meeting tomorrow morning to discuss safety issues for their temple. They’re not sure when services will resume as usual.

7 killed as gunman opens fire at Wisconsin gurdwara

12 Kids Taken Hostage, Say Reports


Washington/New Delhi:
Random American gun violence erupted in a Sikh gurdwara outside Milwaukee in Wisconsin on a quiet Sunday morning, claiming the lives of at least seven people. Early reports spoke of a white Caucasian male who opened fire indiscriminately amid reports that 12 children had been taken hostage. At least 20 people were injured, three of them critically.
The gunman was shot dead by the police who rushed to the scene after 911 calls. “An officer arrived on the scene, engaged the shooter and was shot multiple times,” Greenfield police chief Bradley Wentlandt said. “That shooter was put down.”
Preliminary reports said there were at least three gunmen involved but the police said they have not yet identified if there was any additional shooter. Wentlandt said four people were gunned down inside the gurdwara while three, including the shooter, died outside the shrine. The identity of the victims were not immediately known.
President Barack Obama was briefed by his counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan on the situation.
The Indian embassy in Washington DC said it was seized of the situation and was in touch with the National Security Council. “Our consulate general in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation. An official has been deputed to visit the site to ascertain the situation on the spot,” the embassy said in a statement.

Sikhs Seethe Over Gurdwara Attack In US 

One Of The Dead Believed To Be A Priest From Delhi Visiting Wisconsin 

Washington/New Delhi:

      Sikhs have been targets of random, occasional violence and discrimination in the aftermath of 9/11 although the Obama White House has engaged more with the Sikh community than any other US administration in history.
Obama himself has been deeply respectful of the faith and has hosted events to honour the Sikh Guru Nanak Dev and celebrate other Sikh events. But things have been spotty at the workaday level with occasional complaints from Sikh organizations about discrimination.
Sikhs reacted angrily to the shooting with some snide comments about white, majority terrorism.

      “Waiting for a US news network to get the guts to call this what it is — home-grown terrorism,” said Gagan Singh who tweets under the handle þ@urbanturbanguy.

      Scores of people had gathered at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, built about 6-7 years ago, on Sunday morning when a gunman opened indiscriminate fire.

      On Sundays, typically Sikh temples across the US host a langar to serve free lunch to people of all faiths.

     The local police chief described the scene as chaotic and fluid and urged the media not to broadcast photos or video showing tactical units, which could put officers in danger.
One of the dead was reported to be a priest visiting from Delhi but this could not be confirmed.


    Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in hate crimes in the US since 9/11 attacks as community members were mistaken for Muslims; over 700 incidents recorded

    Sept 2001 | A Sikh gas station owner shot dead in Mesa, Arizona July 2004 | A Sikh severely beaten outside a New York restaurant March 2011 | Two Sikhs fired upon in Sacramento, leaving one dead and the other in critical condition

    May 2011 
A Sikh MTA employee suckerpunched in a moving train in NY by a man who accused him of being related to Osama bin Laden