POLICE: One Gunman Shot and Killed
Six people were killed, including one shooter, just after 10 a.m. Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, police said.
Four of the dead were inside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and three of the dead, including a shooter, were outside on the temple’s parking lot.
A police SWAT team entered the building before noon and brought uninjured people out of the building at 7512 S. Howell Ave.
They started removing injured people from the temple’s prayer room.
SWAT team members were still sweeping the building about 1 p.m. and an explosion was heard from the building at that time.
The first officer on the scene encountered an active shooter and exchanged fire with him, according to Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt who briefed media on the scene.
The shooter went down and is believed to be dead, and the officer was hit multiple times, but is expected to survive, said Wentlandt, who is acting as police spokesman for the incident.
Wentlandt said the officer who was shot was a 20-year veteran and “an extremely accomplished tactical officer.” He was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa where he is in surgery.
Among those who were shot was the president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, who was taken to a hospital. Deepinder Dhaliwal said Kaleka, his brother in law, was shot in the back, but has now been taken to a hospital in St. Francis.
Dick Katschke, a spokesman for the Medical College of Wisconsin, said three adult males were being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. One of the three was undergoing surgery in the intensive care ward. Another is in an operating room. And the third is being treated in the emergency room, Katschke said.
All three were being treated for gunshot wounds. All are in critical condition, according to Froedtert.
One of the temple’s committee members, Ven Boba Ri, said that based on communication with people inside the temple, the shooter was 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.”
According to Ri, the man started shooting after he walked up to a priest who was standing outside, and shot him.
Then he went inside and started shooting.
People inside the temple were using cell phones to call people outside, saying please send help, Ri said.
“It’s sad, I don’t know how to describe it,” said Ri, who has been fielding calls all morning from around the world, including India.
“Sikhism is such a peaceful religion. We have suffered for generations, in India and even here.”
Numerous police agencies had responded to scene to assist Oak Creek, including the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
At least two dozen ambulances responded, including from Oak Creek, Caledonia, North Shore Fire, Greenfield and West Allis. Those ambulances had moved to the temple about 12:40 p.m.
As of about 1:15 p.m., the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said it had not been called to the scene.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force, a collection of federal, state and local law enforcement, was on the scene of the shooting by 1 p.m. Those task forces, several of which are situated around the country, typically work quietly to prevent terrorism attacks but also respond to mass shootings to help coordinate law enforcement. Sources said it was too early to say if this will be considered an act of terrorism.
U.S. Attorney James Santelle said he expected federal law enforcement will play a role in the investigation. Exactly what that role is remains to be seen, Santelle said.
“I am clearly anticipating that there will be federal investigative support,” Santelle said.
In previous mass shootings, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives trace the gun or guns used in the shooting. FBI also may take on a general investigative role, as they have in the past, helping with search warrants or conducting out of state aspects of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Brookfield police officers were dispatched to the Sikh Temple at 3675 N. Calhoun Road as a precaution in the aftermath of the Oak Creek shooting.