Sikh Temple shooting: 7 dead, including gunman, in Wisconsin mass shooting

11:26 PM, Aug 5, 2012   |    comments
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At least seven people were killed Sunday, including the suspected gunman, when a man fired on worshipers at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, police said. Three people, including a police officer, were injured and have been taken to a hospital.

Bradley Wentlandt, chief of the nearby Greenfield police department, said a police officer who arrived on the scene exchanged gunfire with the suspected gunman. The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and the suspected gunman was "down at the scene and is presumed deceased," Wentlandt said.

He said the officer - a 20-year law enforcement veteran - is in surgery at a hospital. Police do not believe there is a second gunman involved, he said.

Police found four of the deceased inside the temple and three, including the gunman, outside.

Police received multiple 911 calls about the shooting at 10:25 a.m. CT, and the first officer on the scene engaged an active shooter outside the temple, said Wentlandt, who told reporters he was acting as spokesman for the Oak Creek police.

Members of the police SWAT team have begun removing the injured from the temple's prayer room, the MilwaukeeJournal-Sentinel reported. Among those shot was Satwant Kaleka, president of the temple, Wentlandt said.

Sikhism is a religion founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. It is among the largest organized religions in the world, with more than 20 million Sikhs worldwide, most in India. About 500,000 live in the U.S.

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.

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.

Contributing: Natalie DiBlasio, William M. Welch and the Associated Press

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