Sikh temple shooter was ‘white supremacist’ former soldier who went on gun rampage that left seven dead in act of ‘domestic terror’

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  • First victim named as temple president Satwant Kaleka, 65, who died trying to ‘knife and tackle’ the shooter
  • Priest Parkash Singh, in his thirties, also killed
  • Six people killed after gunman opened fire inside a Sikh temple at 10.30am
  • Suspect described as white skinhead in his forties with tattoos
  • Shooter ‘had been in the military and recently broke up with girlfriend’
  • Families arriving for morning meditation service when he opened fire
  • Gunman killed by police officer after he shot at him
  • Another officer in hospital after being ambushed by gunman while helping a victim and shot multiple times
  • Three victims, including police officer, in hospital with life-threatening injuries
  • FBI searches home in Cudahy, blocking off surrounding streets
  • President Obama ‘deeply saddened’ by shooting at place of worship
  • NYPD send officers to Sikh temples in the city as a precaution

Daily Mail

The gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple may have been acting on behalf of a violent race hate group, police sources said.
The shooter, who has not been identified, was covered in tattoos which led authorities to describe the massacre as ‘domestic terrorism’. Another source described him as a ‘white supremacist’ or ‘skinhead’.
He was shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with the first officer to respond to the massacre today in Oak Creek.
Four victims were killed inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and three gunned down outside the building while up to 30 more were injured, police confirmed.
One victim was confirmed as the temple’s president, 65-year-old Satwant Kaleka who died as he tried to ‘knife and tackle’ the shooter. The other was Parkash Singh, a priest in his thirties, and a married father-of-two. The lone gunman was allegedly wearing tactical gear and armed with a single handgun. He was described by witnesses as a white male in his forties, either bald or with a shaved head.


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Remembrance: Seven people were dead and dozens injured after the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin Remembrance: Seven people were dead and dozens injured after the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Love and support: People light candles during a vigil to honor victims of Oak Creek in downtown Milwaukee Love and support: People light candles during a vigil to honor victims of Oak Creek in downtown Milwaukee

 

 

Police SWAT teams stormed the temple shortly after noon and rushed survivors to safety. They then rescued the wounded from the temple’s prayer room.

Up to 30 people were hurt in the attack include the temple’s president, who is being treated for life-threatening injuries in hospital.

Tattoos on the body of the gunman and details about his lifestyle led police to describe the shooting as ‘domestic terrorism’, sources told the LA Times. The FBI was leading the investigation.

At 5pm, authorities entered a home in the city of Cudahy, Wisconsin, blocking off streets around the house.

There were reports that the gunman had been in the Army. According to a woman, who described herself as 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 organization, urged caution over the gunman’s motive while the police investigation was ongoing.

Protection: Heavily armored police officers patrol the entrance to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, the scene of multiple shootings in Oak Creek

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Critical condition: The president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, was shot by the gunman and was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries

 

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.’

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.

Grief: A distraught women is comforted outside of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin after the shooting rampage on Sunday

Grief: A distraught women is comforted outside of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin after the shooting rampage on Sunday

 

Armed: A police officer on high alert outside a home in Cudahy, Wisconsin believed to belong to the unidentified shooter
Vehicles: The FBI arrived in the neighbourhood with armoured trucks and a bomb disposal unit

Armed: Police officers and FBI on high alert outside a home in Cudahy, Wisconsin believed to belong to the unidentified shooter

Three victims, all men, were being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.

Satwant Kaleka’s son Amardeep said that the attack ‘wasn’t haphazard’ but extremely coordinated.

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.

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.

Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said it wasn’t clear how many people had been shot. Women and children stayed hiding inside the temple as tactical officers worked to ensure their safety after the gunman opened fire.

Wentlandt said it wasn’t clear how many suspects were involved, although one opened fire on police and the officer ‘put down’ that man. Another officer, a veteran of 20 years, was shot multiple times by the gunman.

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.

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Massacre: Police have confirmed seven people have been killed at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin including the gunman and unconfirmed reports say as many as 20 – 30 people have been injured

 

asdfSWAT: After shooting down the suspected gunman, tactical teams moved inside the temple to rescue those in hiding and those injured

asdfTerrified: Crowds of friends and relatives gathered outside the temple desperate for more information on the massacre

asdfdHorrific: At least six victims have been killed in the shootings. Witnesses describe a chaotic situation with an unknown number of victims, suspects and possible hostages

Lost in prayer: Amardeep Kaleka, whose father Satwant Kaleka was shot, prays in the parking lot while waiting for informationLost in prayer: Amardeep Kaleka, whose father Satwant Kaleka was shot, prays in the parking lot while waiting for information

The doctor refused to name any of the patients or who had suffered particular injuries out of respect for the families.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the district attorney’s office were all on scene to assist local police.

Sikhs at the temple were providing water and food to journalists and police as part of their religious tradition of hospitality.

President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting by Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan shortly before 1pm. He released a statement saying he and Michelle were ‘deeply saddened’ to learn of the tragedy.

‘At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded,’ he said in a statement.

‘My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation.

‘As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.’

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also issued a statement, calling the shootings ‘a senseless act of violence’.

 

asdfFears: Armed police investigate the Sikh Temple where it was initially believed that there was more than one gunman

asdfTargeted: The shooting took place around 10.30 Sunday morning at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. At least seven people have been killed, including the gunman who was shot by a police officer. It is not clear how many people have been injured

asdfDesperation: Petrified women who said they have family members in the Sikh temple wait anxiously for more information as people remain trapped in the building

 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker condemned the attack at the temple and asked the people of his state to pray for the victims.

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

‘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.’

A vigil has been organized for 8pm this evening to show support for the victims and their families in Cathedral Square Park, Milwaukee.

More than a dozen ambulances responded to the scene and authorities closed roads and set up a staging area near the temple, according to WTMJ.

Sukhwindar Nagr, of Racine, said he called his brother-in-law’s phone and a priest at the temple answered. He said the priest told him that his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests.

Mr Nagr said the priest told him that women and children were hiding in closets at the temple.

One witness, Suni Singh, said: ‘My friend called and said ‘I heard the shot, and two people falling down in the parking lot. He saw the shooter reloading the gun again.’

One of the temple’s committee members Ven Boba Ri said they had no idea of the gunman’s motive.

WHAT IS SIKHISM?

Sikhs make up a very small, but rapidly-growing, segment of the population in the United States.

Sikhism is one of the world’s major faiths, with more than 30 million followers across the globe – mostly in India.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs in the United States and the faith has been widely misunderstood and targeted for discrimination – especially in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Sikhism was founded 500 years ago in the Punjab region of modern India and Pakistan by Guru Nanak Dev.

He, and nine successive Gurus who revealed the faith, advocated the equality of all peoples.

Sikhs believe in the importance of having a relationship with God through prayer and observance of the laws of God.

Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair; male followers often cover their heads with turbans and refrain from shaving their beards.

Turbans are sacred garments and Sikhs believe them to be one and the same with their bodies when they are worn.

The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the US since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment.

‘It’s pretty much a hate crime. It’s not an insider,’ Ven Boba Ri told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

‘It’s sad, I don’t know how to describe it,’ he said. ‘Sikhism is such a peaceful religion. We have suffered for generations, in India and even here.’

The temple has a 400-500 congregation and many families were arriving for a meditation service when the attacker struck this morning.

It is estimated that 20 to 30 people were inside the temple when the gunman opened fire.

There was an 11.30 service scheduled which was expected to be attended by hundreds.

A witness told officers that the gunman was a white male, bald, with a heavy build and tattoos. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, according to Oak Creek Patch.

Oak Creek is south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan.

Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since September 11. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment.

Sikhs don’t practice the same religion as Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates said. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement which said that American Muslims ‘stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters’ following the deadly shooting.

Sikhs in Milwaukee have been the targets of attacks in their community as recently as last fall.

Religious leaders asked state lawmakers to visit the temple after a string of robberies and vandalism appeared to target businesses owned by Sikhs.

The attacks were part of a string of mob-like riots in a neighborhood that left several people badly beaten.

State Rep Josh Zepnick and District Attorney John Chisholm visited the temple in September and condemned the violence.

In New York City, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered a police presence at Sikh temples today.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said: ‘The coverage is being put in place out of an abundance of caution.’

The shooting was described as ‘domestic terrorism’ – a phrase that was not used in the Aurora, Colorado attack.

FBI defines terrorism as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives’.

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith that was founded in South Asia more than 500 years ago.

It has roughly 27 million followers worldwide. Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair; male followers often cover their heads with turbans – which are considered sacred – and refrain from shaving their beards.

There are roughly 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S. The majority worldwide live in India. The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin has more than 400 members. It was established in Milwaukee in 1997 with just two dozen families and grew quickly in the last 15 years.

In 2007, a new temple was built in Oak Creek on 13 acres outside Milwaukee city limits. The 17,500-square-foot temple included a much larger parking lot and worship area, as well as a library, a nursery and a play area for children.

This is the second horrific mass shooting in a matter of weeks. On July 20, James Holmes, a 23-year-old graduate student, allegedly killed 12 people and an unborn child and wounded 58 others when he walked into a midnight screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in Aurora, Colorado.

Another shooting massacre will only increase calls for tighter gun control legislation to make it more difficult to for people to buy firearms and place restrictions on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

asdfIt is estimated that 20 to 30 people were inside the temple when the gunman opened fire. There was an 11.30 service scheduled which was expected to be attended by hundreds

 

asdf12 ambulances arrived at the scene; it is not yet clear how many people were injured

 

asdfDistraught: A man wipes away tears as details of the horrifying massacre continue to emerge

Video: Police statement at scene of shooting

 

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