Witnesses near Milwaukee described a chaotic scene at a local Sikh temple, where a gunman killed at least six people before he was shot by authorities. Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the suburb of Oak Creek just before a service was to begin on Sunday morning.
Police say four people were found dead inside the temple, and another three – including the gunman – were deceased outside. Authorities say the gunman opened fire on the first police officer to arrive at the scene, striking him multiple times. The officer, a 20-year veteran, returned fire – killing the gunman – before being taken to a hospital, where he is expected to survive. At least three others were in critical condition with gunshot wounds.
Sikh rights groups have reported more than 700 bias attacks since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. Advocates blame the violence on anti-Islamic sentiment, but note that Sikhs and Muslims don’t practice the same religion, though Sikhs do grow long beards and wear turbans that often have them mistaken for Muslims.
According to estimates, roughly 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States. The majority of the 27 million worldwide followers live in India.
President Obama released the following statement on the Sikh temple shooting on Sunday afternoon:
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. 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. 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.
Milwaukee FBI Field Office Special Agent-in-Charge Teresa Carlson released the following statement with an update in the investigation:
“The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate today’s shooting incident. This remains an active investigation in its early stages. While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time. We know our community has been deeply impacted by this incident, and our thoughts are with those affected and particularly with the officer who was wounded in the line of duty to protect others.”
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