Report By: Nina Rai
Wisconsin 06 Aug., 2012
A lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at a Sikh temple (gurudwara) outside Milwaukee in suburban Oak Creek, Wisc., on Sunday morning around 10:34 a.m., leaving seven worshippers dead, including the shooter, said local police.
The investigation into this mass Sikh temple shooting is being conducted by the FBI. According to the law enforcement, at least four persons were killed inside the gurudwara precincts as the worshippers were preparing for the morning service, while three people were shot dead in the parking lot, including the gunman.
At a hurriedly organized briefing for the news media, Brad Wentlandt, the police chief of Greenfield, Wisc., said: "An officer arrived and engaged a suspect. That officer was shot multiple times. He is expected to survive … The officer exchanged fire with the shooter. That shooter was put down."
A hysterical Sikh (ethnic Indian) lady in a video from the scene felt her brother-in-law was among those who were gunned down inside. Speaking to a reporter from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she moaned, “We never thought this would happen …. Our church is a safe place. We have been here for 34 years.”
Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka, the nephew of one of the victims of the Sikh temple shooting Satwant, informed CNN that one witness had noticed a 9/11 tattoo on the shooter’s arm. The suspected gunman is understood to live in Cudahy, about 12 miles from Oak Creek where the gurudwara is situated.
According to a law enforcement source participating in the deadly Sikh temple shooting investigation: "The man who shot six people to death and wounded three others during a rampage at a Sikh temple in a Milwaukee suburb was an Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist.”
Federal officials have not been authorized to speak on the Sikh temple shooting while the investigation is still ongoing. But on the condition of anonymity, one of the U.S. federal officials disclosed that the man suspected in the shooting was a 40-year-old army man, Wade Michael Page. He is understood to have been demoted in rank before his discharge.
A U.S. defense official told AP that Page joined the military service in 1992 and he was discharged in 1998. According to the official, the suspected Sikh temple shooter was demoted from the rank of a sergeant (E-5) to specialist (E-4). But, he did not specify the reason for the same.
The shooter had made use of a 9mm semi-automatic handgun during the rampage, which was recovered at the scene. Efforts are under way to trace the origin of the weapon, reports Reuters. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the president of the temple was among those shot.
Meanwhile the law enforcement officials searched the apartment of Wade Page, seeking clues about his motive. All along the street in the area generators and floodlights were erected with a bomb squad present on the scene early Monday morning.
The Indian PM Manmohan Singh, who also happens to belong to the ethnic Sikh community in India, said: "That this senseless act of violence targeted at a place of religious worship is particularly painful. I send my deepest condolences to the families that have been bereaved in this incident. Our thoughts are with them in this moment of their grief."
U.S. Presidentand his Republican rival also issued official statements on the Sikh temple shooting and offered their condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the mass shooting on Sunday.
Obama said “… 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.” The President even paid a tribute to the Sikh community stating: “we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."
Obama’s political opponent Mitt Romney said: "... This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead."
Officially, the law enforcement authorities state they are treating the attack as an act of domestic terrorism. Among all the U.S. states, Wisconsin has some of the most liberal gun laws in US. It had in fact passed a law in 2011 permitting citizens to carry hidden weapons. This incident of mass shooting of innocent people is coming fast on the heels of the infamous mass killing of unwary theatre goers watching the "Dark Knight" movie in Colorado, which left 12 dead and 58 injured.
The moot point before American law makers and the public is this: Isn’t it time to have a re-evaluation of the gun laws prevailing in the country? Why is there this irrational American attachment to arms and ammunitions? Isn’t it time now to pave the way for tighter gun laws and measures? Why has support for tighter gun laws fallen so drastically over the past two decades, with gun rights groups having much more clout politically than gun control advocates?
How many more mass killings before the authorities will wake up to take meaningful action to stem these senseless killings of innocent citizens at the hands of irresponsible gunmen in United States?
References/Sources: NDTV.com/ABC News/CNN/Reuters/AP/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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