Multiple Shooting at Sikh Temple in Wisconsin - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Multiple Shooting at Sikh Temple in Wisconsin

Oak Creek, WI --(NBC)-- A gunman opened fire Sunday morning at a Sikh temple outside of Milwaukee, killing six people and wounding at least three others, including a police officer, before being shot to death, police said.

Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt, acting as public information officer at the scene, said the shooting was reported at 10:25 a.m. at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. The shooting took place shortly before Sunday services were to begin.

A police officer who is a 20-year law enforcement veteran responded to multiple 911 calls about the shooting and came upon a gunman outside the temple. The officer was shot multiple times, Wendlandt said. The officer returned fire, striking and killing the gunman. The wounded officer was taken to a hospital where he was undergoing surgery.

Wendlandt said four bodies were found inside the temple and three, including the suspected gunman, were outside. He did not identify or describe the victims.

Tactical police officers swept through the temple several times and found no signs of additional suspects despite earlier reports of a possible second gunman.

"This is the best information we have, and this information may change,'' he told reporters outside the temple.

The temple's president, Satwant Kaleka, was among those shot, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Senintel.

Sukhwindar Nagr, of Racine, said he called his brother-in-law's phone and a priest at the temple answered, The Associated Press reported. Nagr said the priest told him that his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests. Nagr said the priest also said women and children hid in closets at the temple.

A temple committee member, Ven Boba Ri, told the Journal-Sentinel that people inside the temple described the shooter as a white male in his 30s.

"We have no idea," he said of the motive. "It's pretty much a hate crime. It's not an insider."

Ri told the Journal-Sentinel the gunman walked up to a priest who was standing outside the temple and shot him. Then he went inside and started shooting.

People inside the temple used cell phones to call people outside, saying please send help, Ri said.

Three male victims, including the wounded police officer, were being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.

Oak Creek police, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies responded, the Journal-Sentinel reported. The FBI also assisted.

Authorities closed roads and set up a staging area near the temple, WTMJ reported.

Wisconsin state Rep. Josh Zepnick, who came to the scene, said he has been inside the temple many times. He described the shooting as senseless.

"On a beautiful Sunday morning, the absolute last thing you would expect is a place of peace and love and spiritual worship would be torn to shreds by gun violence," Zepnick told WTMJ.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement.

"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."

Police from Brookfield, Wisc., west of Milwaukee, were sent to a Sikh temple there as a precaution after news of the Oak Creek shootings spread.

President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting shortly before 1 p.m. by his Homeland Security adviser, John Brennan, and was receiving updates on the incident.

The New York Police Department said it was increasing coverage in and around Sikh temples in New York City as a precaution. "There is no known threat against Sikh temples in New York City, however, the coverage is being put in place out of an abundance of caution," the department said.

Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs don't practice the same religion as Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith that was founded in South Asia more than 500 years ago. It has roughly 27 million followers worldwide. Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair; male followers often cover their heads with turbans -- which are considered sacred -- and refrain from shaving their beards. They are neither Muslim nor Hindu.

There are roughly 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S., according to estimates. The majority worldwide live in India.

**For the latest on this developing story from our NBC partner station, WTMJ-TV click here.

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