Sikh Temple Shooting: At Least Six Worshippers Killed in Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
At least six people were killed and more wounded when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at a Sikh temple in the US.
The shooting took place shortly before 10.30am local time at a place of worship in Oak Creek, south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Police said the gunman was shot by an officer who enagaged him in fire immediately after arriving on the scene. The officer was hit several times, but was able to return fire. The suspect is believed to have died, and the officer was taken to hospital, where he is critically ill.
Emergency teams found the bodies of four victims inside the temple. Three more corpses lay outside the building, apparently including that of the suspect. A police spokesman said the officer who arrived on the scene was able to "put down" the gunman.
The officer was taken to hospital and was admitted for surgery. It is thought he is one of three people said to have been left in a critical condition as a result of gunshot wounds. There were no confirmed reports of the total number of people injured, but early reports put the figure between four and up to 30.
Police said Sunday afternoon that the situation was contained. There had earlier been fears that a second gunman remained at large and was holding worshippers hostage. A cordon was placed around the temple on Sunday afternoon – leading to conflicting initial reports as to how many people remained inside, and the extent of their injuries.
Ambulances and police marksman surrounded the temple. But early tactical sweeps by officers indicated the shootings were carried out by a sole gunman.
Bradley Wentlandt, police chief of the nearby town of Greenfield, confirmed later that there was only one suspect. "There is no evidence of additional shooters at the temple," he said during a press briefing outside the temple.
Officers began bringing worshippers out of the building on Sunday afternoon after establishing that there was no further threat.
The injured police officer responded to a 911 call at around 10.25 local time. "An officer arrived at the scene. He engaged immediately in active shooting [with the suspect]. He was shot multiple times," a police spokesman said.
Police said it was too early to speculate over a motive for the attack. But some worshippers at the centre told media that they feared it was a hate crime.
A spokeswoman for Froedert Hospital, the main trauma centre in the area, told CNN that two men had been admitted with gunshot wounds, but that that staff had been told to prepare for more.
It is thought that around 50 people were trapped inside the temple as the shootings took place.
Prominent members of the local Sikh community were amongst those thought to have been injured by the gunman.
Jatin Der Mangat, 38, of Racine, said his uncle, temple's president Satwant Singh Kaleka was one of those wounded, but he didn't know how serious his injuries were.
"It was like the heart just sat down," he said. "This shouldn't happen anywhere."
Sukhwindar Nagr, also of Racine, said he called his brother-in-law's phone and a priest at the temple answered and told him that his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests.
Children hid in closets in the temple amid fears that the suspect was still on the loose, the priest told Nagr.
Meanwhile in a statement, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said: "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence."
Barack Obama was informed of the latest atrocity shortly before 1pm ET by homeland security adviser John Brennan.
In a statement, the president said he was "deeply saddened". He added: "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."
The incident in Wisconsin comes two weeks after 12 people were killed and nearly 60 injured in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.