Ever since September 11th, 2011 there have been more than 700 reports of hate-related crimes/incidents against Sikhs. This is mainly because many people often mistaken Sikh’s for Muslims even though they are completely different religions, with the only similarities being perhaps the turbans and thick beards. In any case, hate-related crimes based on any religion are as ignorant as it gets. Unfortunately things have not changed since then, as this morning, 7 people were shot and killed at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
At around 10:25 am as dozens of worshipers were gathering for a peaceful meal and prayer service at the temple, a tall gunman appeared and opened fire at the congregation. You could probably imagine how quickly the scene grew chaotic as there are over 500 members at this specific temple (gurdwara). As soon as the gunman began to open fire, people fled, some hiding in closets around the building while calling for help.
The first officer on the scene was shot multiple times himself as he was helping to treat one of the victims and was rushed to Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital where he underwent surgery. The gunman himself was then shot and killed by the second officer. Although there were unconfirmed reports of multiple shooters and a hostage situation, the police announced that they believe there was just one gunman.
Officials have dubbed the case as an “act of domestic terrorism” as the FBI begins to lead in the investigation. Neither the gunman’s identity nor any sort of motive was released to the public. This sad news has spread quickly across the country, and President Obama has already released a statement: “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time 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. My administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American Family.”