Wisconsin - At least six persons have been killed and several injured, some critically by one or more gunmen at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a gurudwara, in what appeared to be a hate crime in Oak Creek, a quiet suburb of Milwaukee. (reports said that an "active shooter” killed at scene and 6 others have been killed at the gurudwara).
After news of the shooting broke around mid-day local time, media reports quoted Lee Biblo, Chief Medical Officer at nearby Froedtert Hospital, saying that three male adults had been brought into the operating room in critical condition, with gunshot wounds to abdomen and the face.
Meanwhile aerial television footage showed at least one body lying near a parking lot outside the gurudwara. A CNN report quoted Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, saying that multiple sources had confirmed that “there were wounded people still inside the temple and that there may have been multiple perpetrators.”
Reports also quoted an unnamed member of the Sikh community saying that a Sikh priest visiting from New Delhi, India, was said to have been shot at, at the scene of the crime. Even as breaking news indicated that at least one gunman may still be inside the gurudwara, law enforcement officers were said to have “returned fire and [a] shooter was put down.”
One police officer was injured in an exchange of fire. Chief Bradley Wentlandt of the Greenfield, Wisconsin Police said that “multiple rounds were exchanged and the officer was shot multiple times,” and the shooter was “presumed deceased.” Mr. Wentlandt however noted that based on information on police scanners there was still no clear evidence that there were multiple perpetrators.
While Mr. Biblo said no women or children had been brought into the hospital yet, Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh council on Religion and Education in Washington said that women and children may have been among those in the gurudwara at the time of the shooting, generally on site at this time of day to prepare the community meal.
However, other local hospitals reportedly received victims from the shooting incident too and a full list of potential victims was not yet available. Amardeep Kaleka who said his father was in the gurudwara at the time of the attack, said to media outlets that his father had sought refuge apparently hid in a closet and said to his son on the phone, “They’re out there.”
Mr. Kaleka added that the police informed him around "26 to 28 people had been shot", including the head priest who was "bleeding profusely."
Meanwhile the Indian embassy in Washington said that it was "seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C." While the Indian Consulate General in Chicago too has been in "close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation," the embassy also noted that an official has been deputed to visit the site "to ascertain the situation on-the-spot."
Police describe chaotic scene
Authorities were on the scene on Sunday of shootings at the Sikh Temple near Milwaukee, where police and witnesses described a chaotic situation with an unknown number of victims, suspects and possible hostages.
Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the suburb of Oak Creek on Sunday morning, when witnesses said several dozen people were gathering for a service. They responded with a dozen ambulances, although Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said it wasn’t clear how many people had been shot.
Mr. Wentlandt also said it wasn’t clear how many suspects were involved, although one opened fire on an officer and the officer “put down” that man. Wentlandt said the officer was shot multiple times.
Three shooting victims, all men, were taken to Froederdt Hospital in Milwaukee, the main trauma center for the area, spokeswoman Carolyn Bellin said. One was in the operating room, another in a surgical intensive care unit and the third was being evaluated in the emergency room, she said.
Sukhwindar Nagr, of Racine, said he called his brother-in-law’s phone and a priest at the temple answered and told him that his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests. The priest also said women and children were hiding in closets in the temple, Mr. Nagr said.