UPDATE: Seven Killed in Sikh Temple Shooting in Oak Creek, Wis.
Dozens injured in Sunday morning shooting, including a veteran police officer.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:25 p.m. CST to include updates from officials at a press conference.
Seven people have been killed and at least three others wounded in a Sunday morning shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin 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.
FOX6 News is reporting that Froedtert Hospital said three adult males were at the hospital, being treated for gunshot wounds. All three are in critical condition.
Actions Considered 'Domestic Terrorism'
Officials are now speaking at a press conference. The Oak Creek Police Chief has said "heroic actions of officers stopped it from being worse than it is."
Oak Creek Patch Local Editor Mark Schaaf is tweeting live from the temple shooting press conference. https://twitter.com/OakCreekPatch
The incident is being treated as domestic terrorism, officials said at the Sunday afternoon press conference. There are no total numbers yet on injuries or deaths, and the temple area is just now being cleared.
Police are not releasing information about the suspect, but have confirmed that seven people have died, and three were injured, including an Oak Creek officer who was earlier taken to the hospital.
The suspect was killed by Oak Creek police, and no one is in custody. Police believe there was just one shooter.
Law enforcement believe the reports of multiple shooters grew out of the many witnesses who saw the same shooter at different angles, but the incident is still under investigation. The FBI is overseeing the criminal investigation.
No further information will be released until a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday.
Sikh's originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. There are four Sikh temples in the Chicago area including locations in Palatine and Wheaton. Palatine Sikh's were shocked by the shooting.
“As soon as we heard [about] it, it was dreadful, heartbreaking. It is things like this that make us lose our trust, and the openness that our religion encourages fires back on us,” said Sukhdev Ghuman, president of the Palatine Gurdwara.
Temple members are stunned
The scene outside the temple, which opened in 2007, was somewhat subdued Sunday afternoon 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."
One of the leaders of the temple said that after the shooting started, some women hid in a closet for more than an hour.
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.
Oak Creek police were having some people who had been in the temple at the time to stay at a bowling alley across the street. The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army also were on the scene to assist temple members.
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."
Another member, who drives from Madison every Sunday to attend Sikh services in Oak Creek, said: "This is disgraceful for the community and the whole world. People come here to worship, pray and express their feelings to God. It's sad that this happened here, and I hope those victimized don't lose their faith in God."
Inderjeet Singh Dhillan, another member of the temple who was not inside at the time, said there have been no earlier problems at the Oak Creek facility.
"This is really scary and really unexpected," he said.
One member of the the Sikh temple in Brookfield traveled to Oak Creek as soon as he heard the news. "To pull a gun out at the place you go worship — that's shocking," he said.
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.
The White House says that President Barack Obama also has been briefed on the shootings.
In statement, Obama said:
"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded."
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.
DA visited temple last year to focus on violence
The shootings come nearly one year after state Rep. Josh Zepnick and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm visited the same temple to talk about public safety issues in the Sikh community.
The temple asked for the meeting because of recent violence against Sikhs in Milwaukee, including the looting of at least one Sikh-owned business.
"The Sikh community is a strong and positive force within Milwaukee's diverse ethnic population," Zepnick at the time. "It's unacceptable that they, or any law-abiding business owner, be the target of what appears to be an escalating pattern against certain businesses and segments of the population."
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."