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Gunman Kills 6 At Wisconsin Sikh Temple


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, on another morning when we try to make sense of the senseless. Gunshots tore through a Sunday prayer service at a Sikh temple yesterday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. That's a suburb just south of Milwaukee. Seven people have been confirmed dead, and that includes the gunman, whose identity has not been released. A police officer and two more people were wounded. From member station WUWM, LaToya Dennis has more.

LATOYA DENNIS, BYLINE: Police arrived at the temple in Oak Creek at around 10:30 a.m. and were ambushed by a man who police believe acted alone. Before the shooter was shot and killed in the parking lot by a police officer, another officer suffered multiple wounds. The Milwaukee area Sikh community is small. Some estimate the population here between two and 3,000 people. But no matter the size, its members believe the impact of this shooting will be felt for some time to come.

SIMRAN KALEKA: No matter who is shot and killed in there, it's going to affect all of us.

DENNIS: Simran Kaleka says her entire family was at the temple.

KALEKA: It's so scary to know that just like this, everyone could be gone, you know. My brother - I rushed home when I heard, just hoping that my little brother was just sleeping. He went. Everyone was there.

DENNIS: She says it's hard to believe in anything right now.

KALEKA: I'm very angry. Someone told me to pray. I was like I'll try to, but I'm so mad right now.

DENNIS: One person offering prayer for those finding it difficult is Denise Brewer. She's not a member of the temple or even of the same religion, but she felt compelled to offer support.

DENISE BREWER: You know, there's got to be somebody down here praying. If there isn't a group, I'll do it, you know. So I came down here to pray.

DENNIS: Sikh members say it's easy for something like this to happen when there's misinformation. Amardeep Kaleka is another member of the Kaleka family.

AMARDEEP KALEKA: We need to understand in this world what cultures exist and why they exist and how they exist. I mean, it's more or less just knowing your neighbor.

DENNIS: Kaleka says violence like this goes against everything his religion stands for.

KALEKA: The Sikh community is about peace and about learning and about trying to get groups of people together, you know, and to create larger tribes of human civilization.

DENNIS: Kaleka says his community has been largely accepted in Oak Creek, but he's not sure how they begin to move forward after this.

For NPR News, I'm LaToya Dennis, in Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

LaToya Dennis