Chaos and Carnage: At Least 7 Dead after 'Domestic Terrorism' at Wisconsin Sikh Temple

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Common Dreams

Chaos and Carnage: At Least 7 Dead after 'Domestic Terrorism' at Wisconsin Sikh Temple

FBI: "An act of domestic terrorism"

by
Common Dreams staff

Family members wait for information near the temple. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

UPDATE:The Los Angeles Times is reporting:

Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday.

[...] A federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media refused to say whether the gunman was thought to belong to a hate group or some other violent group because the investigation was still unfolding.

* * *

At least seven people, including a gunman shot by a police officer, have been killed in an attack on worshipers at a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, police have said.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Four of the dead were inside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and three of the dead, including a shooter, were outside the temple.

A police SWAT team entered the building before noon and brought uninjured people out of the building at 7512 S. Howell Ave.

They started removing injured people from the temple's prayer room.

SWAT team members were still sweeping the building about 1 p.m. and an explosion was heard from the building at that time. It was unclear what the explosion was.

The first officer on the scene encountered an active shooter and exchanged fire with him, according to Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt who briefed media on the scene.

The shooter went down and is believed to be dead, said Wentlandt, who is acting as police spokesman for the incident. He said authorities had no evidence of a second shooter.

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. 

The Associated Press adds:

Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 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 say.

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., according to estimates. The majority worldwide live in India.

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