UPDATE: Alleged Gunman Identified in Sikh Temple Shooting in Oak Creek

Seven people were killed and dozens injured Sunday morning, including a veteran police officer.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 5:54 a.m. PST Monday to include the reported name of the alleged gunman.

Police have identified the name of the alleged gunman in the killing of seven people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday morning.

He is reported to be 40-year-old Army veteran Wade Michael Page.

Seven people were killed and many others wounded in the shooting at the  in Oak Creek.

Police said three bodies were found outside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and four were inside the building. Among the deceased is the gunman, who apparently acted alone.

Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt told reporters shortly before 2 p.m. that tactical units have gone through the building and have not identified any other shooters.

Wentlandt said the Oak Creek police officer who first responded to the call was shot multiple times but is expected to survive. That officer, a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon, he said.

Temple members are stunned

The scene outside the temple, which opened in 2007, was somewhat subdued Sunday as members gathered to get more information on their friends and loved ones.

One member of the temple told Patch: "We are shocked. We are a peaceful people."

At about 2:30 p.m. CST, temple members were quietly taking in all that had just transpired. There were a few tears, but little public display of emotion.

Gurtreet Singh, 27, a member of the temple, described the Sikh community as being very closeknit. As he was talking, he choked up.

"I'm trying to hold it together outside. Inside my insides are being torn apart," he said as he pointed to his heart.

He said it's difficult right now because there's not a lot of clear information out there.

Another person who had friends inside the temple told Patch that the shooting occurred during a morning service as the gunman opened fire on the victims.

Another member of the temple told Patch: "The priest called from inside (the temple) and said, "Send ambulances; send ambulances."

Scanner reports say a witness to the shooting told law enforcement the shooter was a white male, with a heavy build, bald head and wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, and had two handguns.

Police departments from throughout the region — including Wauwatosa, Fox Point and Brown Deer, as well as the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department — responded to the scene. The Flight for Life helicopter also responded to the scene and the FBI has been called in.

As an apparent precaution, several squad cars were stationed at the entrances and exits of the Sikh Temple at 3675 N. Calhoun Road in Brookfield — the only other Sikh temple in the region.

Temple serves a growing community

The Sikh Temple began with 20 families in rented space in the south side of Milwaukee and has since grown to number in the hundreds. A new Gurudwara was built in Oak Creek to better serve the needs of the growing community. The construction of the 17,500 square-foot Gurudwara was completed in 2007, with parking for 100 cars.

Sikh Indians, because of religious tradition, wear turbans to cover their uncut hair and have longer beards. They are often mistaken for Muslims and have been the targets of racially-motivated crimes by anti-Muslim people and groups, as evidenced by the epithets shouted at them.

Sunday's shooting is similar to an incident in March 2005 in Brookfield, when a gunman killed parishioners during a church service at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield where the Living Church of God met regularly.

One of their own, long-time church member Terry Ratzmann, 44, of New Berlin, opened fire, killing himself and seven other people. Then-District Attorney Paul Bucher told the Associated Press in August 2005 that Ratzmann executed the pastor’s family and “then randomly opened up fire after that."

A clear motive for the Brookfield shooting was never identified.

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund,  a national Sikh American civil rights organization, issued a statement Sunday saying:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured, the survivors, their families, and the Oak Creek community."

Reaction is swift to shooting

The shooting prompted Gov. Scott Walker to cancel an event that he had planned in Green Bay on Monday.

In a statement, the governor said:

While the situation in Oak Creek continues to develop rapidly, we are working with the FBI and local law enforcement.  I became aware of the situation late this morning and continue to receive updated briefings.

Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.

At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends.

Tonette and I ask everyone to join us in praying for the victims and their families, praying for the safety of our law enforcement and first responder professionals and praying for strength and healing for this entire community and our state. 

State Sen. Chris Larson, who represents Oak Creek, said on Twitter: "Thoughts & prayers with friends in Oak Creek & our Sikh community. Still trying to figure out what is happening and why."

State Rep. Mark Honadel, who also represents Oak Creek, said his prayers go out the families of the victims and the officer who was shot. "It's a tragic day for the 21st District," he said.

Eric Hovde, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat, tweeted: "Sharon and I send our thoughts and prayers out to all of those involved in the Oak Creek shooting."

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who also is running for Senate tweeted: "My thoughts and prayers go out to those in the Sikh Community who had their profession of faith interrupted by a senseless act of violence."


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »