Seven killed in Sikh temple mass shooting

Dozens of worshippers are also injured before police kill gunman in Wisconsin

At least seven people are dead and up to thirty have been injured after a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in what currently appears to be a racially-motivated attack.

Police say the massacre at the Temple in Oak Creek, a small town near Milwaukee, began shortly after 10am yesterday. One of the fatalities is believed to be the gunman, who was “put down” by officers following a brief shoot-out.

The suspect is believed to be a bald, white male, of heavy build, aged 40. He was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and carrying at least one and maybe two handguns when he arrived at the Temple as worshipers were preparing for their Sunday morning service.

Witnesses say he walked up to a priest standing outside, and opened fire. Then he reloaded his weapons and moved into the building. Four people were eventually found dead inside the Temple, including the gunman, and another three outside.

Bradley Wendtland, the local police chief, said last night that he’s still attempting to establish exactly what happened during the attack. Officers were dispatched to the Temple after receiving multiple 911 calls from terrified people inside.

“An officer arrived and engaged a suspect,” he told reporters. “That officer was shot multiple times. He is expected to survive. The officer exchanged fire with the shooter. That shooter was put down.”

Darshan Dhaliwal, a local Sikh community leader, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that around three dozen women and children survived by hiding in closets in the building’s basement. He added: "this is insanity.”

Ven Boba Ri, one of the Temple’s committee members, said the head priest managed to barricade himself into the Temple’s toilets, before calling for help using his mobile telephone. “It's pretty much a hate crime,” he said. “It's sad. I don't know how to describe it. Sikhism is such a peaceful religion.”

Parminder Kaleka, who was waiting behind police lines outside the temple, hoping for news of relatives still inside, told reporters that she had recently spoken via telephone to a brother-in-law who witnessed the attack.

"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. This is a big tragedy for our church.” Her brother-in-law was among the injured, she added.

A motive for the attacks has yet to be fully established, but there are indications that the attacker was attempting to target Muslims and may have mistakenly been under the impression that the Sikh Temple was a Mosque.

In July, a Wisconsin State Representative, Josh Zepnick, had visited the Temple with to discuss what he called “public safety” issues with the Sikh community. A news release he issued immediately after the meeting observed that, in the US, Sikhs are often confused with Muslims.

As a result, that news release said, they are frequently victims of Islamophobic attacks. "The Sikh community is a strong and positive force within Milwaukee's diverse ethnic population," stressed Zepnick.

The incident comes just over a fortnight after the Aurora shooting, in which 12 people were killed and 58 injured after a gunman opened fire at a screening of the new Batman film, in a suburb of Denver. It seems likely to add to pressure for a public debate over US gun laws, which are the most relaxed in the developed world.

It will also place a spotlight on the state of community relations in Wisconsin, which is hugely politically polarised amid ongoing conflict between Democratic activists and the state’s Governor, Scott Walker, a tea-party favourite who has dramatically cut public services and who recently defeated an effort to unseat him during a recall election.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence