Local Sikh, police react to massacre at Wisconsin temple

August 6, 2012

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The news came in over social media during Sunday worship at the Wheaton-based Illinois Sikh Community Center.

Members started getting tweets and comments on their cell phones.

“All of the sudden someone said, ‘Hey did you hear this?’, and we all said, ‘No, no this is not true, this must be a joke,’” said Ravi Singh, a member of the west suburban temple.

Someone had walked into a Sikh temple in suburban Oak Creek, Wisconsin and started shooting shortly after 10 a.m. that morning.

Seven people were killed, including the gunman. Three people, including one of the responding police officers are in critical condition at a Milwaukee-area hospital.

When the news broke, local police in Wheaton went straight to the temple in their community.

Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field said regardless of any confirmed threat, people feeling safe in public places is “paramount.”

He said after the mass shooting at a midnight showing of the latest Batman film in Colorado two weeks ago, Wheaton officers were sent to area movie theaters.

Oak Creek police held a press conference Monday morning, but couldn't release many details because of the ongoing investigation.

They identified the victims as: Sita Singh, 41, Ranjit Singh, 49, Satwant Singh Kakeka, 65, Prakash Singh, 39, Paramjit Kaur, 41, and Suveg Singh, 84.

Singh said a number of people who attend the Wheaton temple know the victims or are family members. About 30 people have traveled to Wisconsin, he said.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards also identified the officer who remains in critical condition as Lt. Brian Murphy, 51. According to Edwards, Murphy was shot eight or nine times, mostly in his extremities.

Local and federal officials investigating the massacre have identified the shooter as Wade Michael Page, a former Army veteran.