Seven die as gunman targets Sikh temple in Wisconsin
AT LEAST seven people, including a gunman, have died in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, in the American state of Wisconsin.
A police officer who was first on the scene has undergone surgery after he received multiple gunshot wounds.
At least three people were said to be critically injured during the attack which happened yesterday afternoon.
US president Barack Obama spoke of his sadness at the shooting, as he did after a gun massacre that left 12 dead at a Colorado cinema just over two weeks ago.
Local police chief Bradley Wentlandt said calls had been made to the 911 emergency services number at about 10:25 local time yesterday.
He said an officer sent to the scene had “engaged an active shooter”, during which he had been shot multiple times.
At least two reports from inside the temple, or gurdwara, suggest the perpetrator was white and male.
Oak Creek is a town of about 30,000 people in the south-east corner of the state.
The website for the temple says it opened in 1999 and now has a congregation of 350-400. Sunday morning was the busiest time of worship, members of the congregation said.
Mr Wentlandt said police had identified four people dead inside the temple and three outside – including the gunman shot by police, who he said was “down on the scene and presumed deceased”.
Earlier, Mr Wentlandt said the injured police officer was expected to survive, but in a later briefing said the officer’s condition was “unknown”.
Three critically injured men were being treated at Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital, said officials at that facility.
A relative of one of the injured men, Sukhwindar Nagr, said he had phoned him. A priest at the temple answered and told him his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests. The priest also said women and children had been hiding in cupboards in the temple, Mr Nagr added.
Among others affected, Suni Singh said he had spoken to a friend inside the temple at the time. “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,” Mr Singh said.
Parminder Kaleka, who was waiting outside the temple, said she had phoned her brother-in-law – a priest who was inside “at that time [the] shooting happened”. She said: “He told me 25 or more people got shot, at that time they don’t even know if they are dead or alive, so a lot of people got injured.”
She said her brother-in-law had also been shot, and said distraught families were gathered outside the temple.
“We are waiting for news, all the families together,” she said.
“This is a big tragedy for our church,” she said, adding that everyone had always assumed it would be a place of safety.
Other relatives of people inside the temple at the time of the shooting said they had heard reports of children being held hostage, but there was no confirmation of this.
Mr Obama said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded,” he said in statement. “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.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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