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Sikh temple shooting: Anxious families await names of victims

Families anxiously waited to learn who lived and who died during a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee on Sunday.

At least three men remain in critical condition.

“One is in surgical intensive care, one is in the operating room and one is in the emergency room,” Froedtert Hospital spokeswoman Beth Strohbusch told the Chicago Tribune.

According to police, local media reports and witness accounts, a gunman attacked the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek shortly after 10 a.m. CT. Four died inside the building and three died outside, including the shooter, who exchanged gunfire with the first police officer to arrive on the scene.

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PHOTOS: Gunman opened fire at Sikh temple

The officer, a 20-year veteran, was hit several times but is expected to live, police said.

“A man says his friend saw two people get shot in a parking lot. He drove away in a panic,” Ashley Sears, a reporter for Fox 6 in Milwaukee, tweeted.

WISN-TV in Milwaukee reported that police are interviewing witnesses inside the temple. Family members haven’t been able to reach relatives who were inside, according to WTMJ radio.

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“The prevailing sentiment has just been overwhelming grief.... Now that’s almost changed to quiet anger, unbelievable grief and a feeling of questioning of how something like this could have happened,” said an on-scene reporter for WTMJ.

Sikhism is a relatively young religion, originating during the 15th century in south Asia. Most Sikhs live in India, and the Indian embassy in Washington said that its consulate in Chicago was keeping close tabs on the situation.

“Our hearts bleed for precious & innocent lives lost in Oak Creek,” tweeted Nirupama Rao, the Indian ambassador to the United States. “This is a very tragic time for our community. We must maintain calm.”

Sikhs are sometimes mistaken as Muslims and Hindus in the United States and have been targeted in hate crimes. Sikh men leave their beards untrimmed and cover their uncut hair with turbans, and women wear turbans or scarves over their hair. Sikh temples, known as gurdwaras, function as community centers.

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According to the Oak Creek Patch, Milwaukee state Rep. Josh Zepnick and Dist. Atty. John Chisholm visited the temple in 2011 to discuss ethnic discrimination against Sikhs in Oak Creek.

“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.


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