More Shooting Madness: At Least Seven Killed by Gunman at Wisconsin Sikh Temple (UPDATED)
And now, news of yet another mass shooting. This is a developing story but the latest bulletin from NBC News puts the death total at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin at 7, even though the story says six:
A gunman opened fire Sunday morning at a Sikh temple outside of Milwaukee, killing at least six people and wounding a police officer before being shot to death, police said.
Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt, acting as public information officer at the scene, said the shooting was reported at 10:25 a.m. at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. The shooting happened shortly before Sunday services were to begin.
A police officer who is a 20-year law enforcement veteran responded to the scene and confronted a gunman outstide the temple. The officer was shot multiple times, Wendlandt said. The officer returned fire, striking and killing the gunman. The wounded officer was taken to a hospital where he was undergoing surgery.
Wendlandt said four bodies were found inside the temple and three, including the suspected gunman, were outside.
He did not identify or describe the victims.
He said no additional suspects were identified but police were investigating reports about the possibility of at least one more gunman being involved.
He called the situation “fluid.” Police who entered the temple were trying to identify everyone inside.
Wendlandt asked media to refrain from showing live pictures, including aerials, of the ongoing police operation at the temple.
Earlier, at least four people were seen covered on the ground outside the temple. The temple’s president was among those shot, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Doug Mataconis adds this:
The Oak Creek Police Chief has told the press that a gunman was taken down outside the temple by a police officer who was also wounded in the firefight but was expected to live. However, people on the scene who have heard from relatives still inside the temple and communicating by cell phone or text message (apparently in hiding) are saying that there are multiple gunmen.
It’s far too early to know what this is all about, but it’s worth remembering that, in the wake of the September 11th attacks Sikh men became the targets of attacks because of their practice of wearing turbans and growing long beards leading some less-enlightened people to mistake them for Muslim.
Indeed: the details have yet to emerge — but on a story such as this, expect them to emerge very soon. The Milwaukee Journal has superb breaking coverage. Here’s a chunk of it — but to the link to read it all:
Wentlandt said the officer was hit multiple times, but is expected to survive. He said the officer was a 20-year veteran and “an extremely accomplished tactical officer.” He was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa where he was in surgery just before 2 p.m.
Among those who were shot was the president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, who was taken to a hospital.
Deepinder Dhaliwal said Kaleka, his brother in law, was shot in the back, but has now been taken to a hospital in St. Francis.
Dhaliwal said his sister, the president’s wife, called him while hiding inside the building with a few other women.
Dick Katschke, a spokesman for the Medical College of Wisconsin, said three adult males were being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. One of the three was undergoing surgery in the intensive care ward. Another is in an operating room. And the third is being treated in the emergency room, Katschke said.
All three were being treated for gunshot wounds. All are in critical condition, according to Froedtert.
People were in the temple as early as 6:30 a.m. Sunday and many more were arriving for a service that was to begin about 11:30 a.m.
There were reports that children were taken away from the area of the building where the shooting took place after shots were fired.
Someone who sent a text message to a Journal Sentinel reporter shortly before noon said that there were two shooters with children possibly as hostages.
And the head priest was locked inside a restroom with a cell phone and that there were as many as 20 to 30 victims.
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.
“We have no idea,” he said of the motive. “It’s pretty much a hate crime. It’s not an insider.”
According to Ri, the man started shooting after he walked up to a priest who was standing outside, and shot him.
Then he went inside and started shooting.
People inside the temple were using cell phones to call people outside, saying please send help, Ri said.
“It’s sad, I don’t know how to describe it,” said Ri, who has been fielding calls all morning from around the world, including India.
“Sikhism is such a peaceful religion. We have suffered for generations, in India and even here.”
“We’re all the same,” said temple member Jaswinder Schandock. “Everybody has the same blood.”
Raw video of shooting developements on the LA Times site:
The LA Times coverage gives more details on the hostage situation:
Relatives of those trapped inside the temple said hostages had been taken at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, according to Ashley Sears, a reporter for Fox 6 in Milwaukee.
“A man says his friend saw two people get shot in a parking lot. He drove away in a panic,” she tweeted.
The head priest was locked inside a restroom after the shooting, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which received a text message suggesting that there were as many as 20 to 30 victims.
The paper also reported that the president of the temple had been shot and that a SWAT team had entered the building before noon Central time to bring out uninjured victims.
Oak Creek police are looking for two suspects in the shooting, both described by witnesses as white men with muscular builds, said a senior federal law enforcement official. The Associated Press reported that one shooter was down.
It is unclear at this time what the motivation for the attack was or if there is a link between the suspects and a terrorist group or a hate group, the federal source said.
Ben Handelman of Fox 6 in Milwaukee tweeted that a police officer had been shot and that a gunman had been shot outside the temple.
Sukhwindar Nagr of Racine told the Chicago Tribune that he called his brother-in-law’s phone and a priest at the temple answered. Nagr told the Tribune the priest said his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests, and that women and children were hiding in closets in the temple.
UPDATE 1: Some reaction on Twitter:
Victims in Sikh Temple asking: Do NOT call cellphones, they are currently in hiding and ringer may give up their positions. #TempleShooting
31m Kunal Nayyar ?@kunalnayyar
Heartbroken by the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin. When will this mindless violence stop? Take away people’s ability to buy guns. Please.
54m SikhActivistNetwork ?@sikhactivist
Fellow Tweeters report: “Witnesses speakin out- the first person dead was a 10 yr old kid” in Sikh Temple #TempleShooting
1h Ronan Farrow ?@RonanFarrow
7 dead at Sikh Temple. US has 3 gun homicides per 100,000 people. That’s 4x Switzerland, 10x India, 20x Australia & UK. http://bit.ly/Q5HWA8
1h Russell Simmons ?@UncleRUSH
my prayers are with the people of the Oak Creek Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. this senseless violence must end.
1h LOLGOP ?@LOLGOP
Now are we going to get actual human beings arguing that people inside the Sikh temple should have been armed?
1h Amitabh Bachchan ?@SrBachchan
T 827 – Prayers for those affected at Sikh Temple shooting .. Indian Embassy official rushing to site ..
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1h Roger Ebert ?
UPDATE II: There are now lots of videos on You Tube on the story. A cross section:
Police Chief gives initial details:
This looks like raw video:
CNN: More witnesses:
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