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Entries in Sikh Temple (11)

Friday
Aug172012

Calif. Detective Questions Possible Link in Unsolved Murders and Sikh Temple Massacre

Scott Olson/Getty Images(ELK GROVE, Calif.) -- In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin earlier this month, a detective in California is raising the possibility that the murders of two Sikh men there last year may be connected to the Oak Creek massacre.

Detective Kevin Papineau of the Elk Grove Police Department has been investigating the shootings of two Sikh men on March 4, 2011. Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal routinely walked around their neighborhood, but on their stroll that day they were suddenly gunned down. Singh died at the scene. Atwal managed to hang on for six weeks in a local hospital before passing away.

After white supremacist gunman Wade Michael Page killed six Sikhs in the Oak Creek temple on Aug. 5, Papineau decided to alert the FBI about the possibility that the two incidents might be connected.

"Given the fact they're Sikh, there's that possibility," Papineau told ABC News Friday. "I've been in contact with FBI agents to try to rule in or rule out any possible connection. They're looking into it and we haven't made any progress toward ruling it in or out yet."

Both Singh and Atwal were in traditional Sikh dress at the time of the shootings. All Papineau knows at this point is the gunman was in a tan or gold pick-up truck.

"It's unsolved," he said. "It's active, although the leads and tips to follow up on are kind of starting to run out."

"We're kind of stumped by it," he added.

Authorities in Oak Creek do not believe that there is any connection between the two incidents.

"From what I know of the situation I find it very unlikely," Oak Creek Police chief John Edwards told ABC. "They may be trying to connect it, but I don't think there's anything there."

On Sunday Aug. 5 Page, a former Army veteran with ties to white supremacist groups, went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded numerous others at the temple. Page then took his own life after being shot by an officer.

In a tragic development this week, another member of the temple was killed in an attack at the grocery store he owned in Oak Creek. While he was locking up his Harmony Foods store late Wednesday night along with his cousin, Dalbir Singh was suddenly shot and killed. Milwaukee police do not believe the shooting at the store was connected to the temple massacre.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Thousands Mourn Sikh Shooting Victims

Scott Olson/Getty Images(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- Gov. Scott Walker told a memorial service today for six Sikh men gunned down by a white supremacist that the Sikh community has "shown us that the best way to respond is with love."

The memorial service began five days after the shocking attack on the Sikh temple and long lines of Sikhs and other mourners lined up for the service.

"Today we mourn with you, we pray with you and we support you," Walker told the mourners packed into the Oak Creek High School gymnasium.

He praised the Sikh community's response to the massacre.

"This week our friends and neighbors in the Sikh community have shown us that the best way to respond is with love," the governor said.

Walker was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder at the memorial service and this afternoon the Sikh temple will open for prayer as the Sikhs take turns reading over a thousand pages of their holy book until Sunday morning. Three funerals will be held today and three more on Saturday.

It was last Sunday when white supremacist Wade Michael Page went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded others. Page then took his own life after being shot by an officer.

The people wounded in the attack, including the police officer who was shot eight or nine times, are progressing in their recoveries. According to the hospital where they are recuperating, Lt. Brian Murphy is now in satisfactory condition. Punjab Singh, 65, is still in critical condition, requiring mechanical support to breathe, after suffering a gunshot wound to the face. The hospital said Singh may also have subsequently suffered a stroke. Santokh Singh, 50, is in serious condition after he had surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest.

Long lines formed this morning to enter school gymnasium, and inside the packed gym images of the victim were shown on a screen. Chanting music was played over loudspeakers and all of the men, Sikhs and non-Sikhs, wore the distinctive turbans called patkas.

Thousands of attendees are expected at today's service, taking place on a chilly, rainy day in this suburb south of Milwaukee.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting Victims to Be Buried

Scott Olson/Getty Images(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- Five days after a gunman opened fire inside their temple, the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wis., will hold the first of six funerals Friday for the victims of a white supremacist's murderous shooting spree.

Sikhs will first gather for a wake at a high school, followed by a memorial service where Attorney General Eric Holder is slated to speak.  Early Friday afternoon, the Sikh temple will open for prayer as the Sikhs take turns reading over a thousand pages of their holy book until Sunday morning.  Three funerals will be held Friday and three more on Saturday.

It was last Sunday when white supremacist Wade Michael Page went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded others.  Page then took his own life after being shot by an officer.

The people wounded in the attack, including a police officer who was shot eight or nine times, are progressing in their recoveries.  According to the hospital where they are recuperating, Lt. Brian Murphy is now in satisfactory condition.  

Punjab Singh, 65, is still in critical condition, requiring mechanical support to breathe, after suffering a gunshot wound to the face.  The hospital said Singh may also have subsequently suffered a stroke.  

Santokh Singh, 50, is in serious condition after he had surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest.

On Thursday, the Sikh temple re-opened to members for the first time since the shooting.

"It's only open right now currently to those people who are volunteering to clean it up and to the cleaning agencies getting in there and fixing the things up," said temple spokesman Amardeep Singh Kaleka.

Later in the day, people came together for a community meeting that included an appearance by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who warned that the threat to the Sikh community still remains.

"The Sikhs are such peace-loving people and so caring and the power of their innocence in the temple touches us in a different kind of way.  But they are no less safe than they were a week ago because those who hated them then, hate them now," Jackson said.

In addition to the appearances by Jackson and Holder, other prominent public officials such as Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan have also come to Oak Creek this week to support the Sikhs.

At an emotional candlelight vigil Tuesday night in a downtown park, Ryan said that "the Sikhs have been a great part of our community for a long time."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Hero Kids Saved Lives at Sikh Temple Massacre

ABC News(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- They were among the youngest at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee that deadly Sunday -- and some of the bravest.

Amanat Singh, 9, and her brother, Abhay Singh, 11, were playing outside when they heard gunshots that sounded like fireworks. It was the start of the incident that eventually claimed six lives before the gunman, Wade Michael Page, shot himself.

"We saw a guy," Amanat said. "He got out of a cab and he fast-walked and hit two people who were getting into their car."

The children didn’t hesitate. They ran into the temple to sound the alarm.

"As soon as we got in the kitchen, I started yelling," Abhay said. "I’m like: There's a guy with a gun! Hide! Hide!"

Amanat said she feared that the gunman would kill everyone.

The siblings were able to warn more than a dozen people to run and hide.

Harban Singh Farwaha was one of them.

"They saved my life," Farwaha said.

He added that they also saved the lives of, "my wife, my daughter-in-law and many people."

Amanat and Abhay are happy they were able to do that. Amanat even said she feels like a hero.

"I feel proud because I saved lots of lives," she said.

Even so, she and her brother wish they could have done more.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Wisconsin Temple Shooter's Ex-Girlfriend Arrested

Misty Cook seen here on far right. (Anti-Defamation League)(MILWAUKEE) -- Police say they have arrested the former girlfriend of the gunman who allegedly shot and killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple over the weekend after authorities found a gun in the home they once shared.

Milwaukee police released a statement Tuesday after the arrest of Misty Cook, saying, "In a joint investigation with the FBI, the South Milwaukee Police Department has arrested Misty Cook on the crime of felon in possession of a firearm.  Charges will be sought through the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office."

A federal law enforcement official told ABC News that Cook, 31, was taken into custody on the grounds that she is prohibited from having a gun as a convicted felon.  Cook was charged in 2002 for fleeing and eluding a traffic officer.  There's no indication she was involved in last Sunday's attack.  

Much like her ex-boyfriend, Wade Michael Page, according to the Anti-Defamation League, Cook was involved in white supremacy.

Cook's relationship with Page fell apart in the weeks leading up to his alleged shooting spree at a Sikh temple.  Sharon and Terry Page -- who said they are unrelated to the alleged gunman -- live below Cook, who at one time shared an apartment with Wade Michael Page.

According to Sharon and Terry Page, Cook and Wade moved in to the apartment on March 1, but Wade moved out in the middle of June.  After that point, according to comments Cook made to Sharon, Wade virtually disappeared.

"She told us that for six weeks she hadn't heard anything of him," Sharon said.  "That would have been about the time after he left, so she must have gotten a hold of a co-worker and said he hadn't been at work for three weeks.  She said he kind of just dropped off the face of the earth."

Sharon and Terry Page said Cook and Wade were both quiet and "never really talked to us at all really."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Candlelight Vigil Held for Victims of Wisconsin Temple Shooting

Darren Hauck/Getty Images(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- As the sun set Tuesday in Oak Creek, Wis., thousands gathered in an outpouring of support for victims of the Sikh temple shooting last Sunday.

In a downtown park, attendees lit candles, flew orange Sikh flags, listened to Sikh music, joined in Sikh prayer and donned patkas, a common Sikh head covering.  Speakers described the victims' lives.  Onstage, a group formed a sign that read, "Practice Peace."

"It's still unreal.  Unbelievable.  Unfathomable," said Heather Owen, who attended the vigil with her two young children.  "This is where I grew up.  It's way too close to home."

But she expressed confidence that the town will rally in the face of tragedy.

"It's a tight-knit community and leaning on everybody's shoulders, that's what we do," she said.

Members of the Sikh community who were in attendance were highly emotional, but impressed by the warm display of support Tuesday evening.

"Right now to see the community getting together -- it is not only our Sikh community, even the community like Americans -- everybody getting together holding a candlelight vigil, which is really remarkable because this is the time we have to be together," said Inderjit Grewal.  "You know, show peace.  Show to the world that we are together."

Among the attendees were Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Herb Kohl and Rep. Paul Ryan, who represents this district of Wisconsin.

"It's just nice to see everybody coming over here.  It's profoundly sad and we're all grieving," Ryan said. "Everybody has their ways of showing support for the Sikh community.  The Sikhs have been a great part of our community for a long time and we just want to show them how much we love them and how much we're grieving for them."

The shooting last Sunday morning in Oak Creek -- just south of Milwaukee -- left seven dead, including the gunman, Wade Michael Page, who had ties to white supremacist groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug072012

Temple Gunman's Ex-Stepmom: 'I Wish I Had Some Answers'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The ex-stepmother of the man who killed six people in a Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin Sunday said she doesn't know what happened to Wade Michael Page that made him turn a semi-automatic handgun on unarmed worshippers. Still, Laura Page questioned what impact his military service may have had.

"The last time I saw Wade was at Christmas time and he was very happy with the military at that point," Page told ABC News, referring to Christmas 2001, a few years after he left the service.  "Now I greatly question that direction.  I don't know if the military was good for him.  I don't know.  I wish I had some answers.  And we're not going to have answers because he's dead."

Wade Michael Page was killed after he opened fire on police officers shortly after the Sunday massacre.  He had served six years in the U.S. Army in the 1990s, including a stint in psychological operations, before being discharged and deemed "ineligible for re-enlistment."

Laura Page said she hadn't been in contact with Wade for a long time but the boy she remembers was a "lovely, gentle child."

"I can't imagine what could have gone through his mind for him to do something like this, or anyone to do something like this," she said.  "You can't be functioning normally obviously.  But we'll never know why."

Civil rights groups had tracked Page for more than a decade as he moved through skinhead circles, most prominently as the lead of a white power rock group called End Apathy.

Heidi Beirich, who tracks extremist music groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that Page was one of many people the SPLC was keeping tabs on in the sprawling underground skinhead rock scene.

"You never know with a particular individual," she told ABC News.  "[But] this is a world of violence."

Page appears to have moved to the Milwaukee area this year, where neighbors said he was not very friendly.

"Very standoffish.  He didn't communicate at all," neighbor David Brown said.  "On a one to 10 scale, I would say about 1.5.  He's not real friendly."

Page reportedly bought the nine millimeter handgun legally just week before the fatal shooting.

His immediate family issued a text to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying they were "devastated by the horrific events."

"While there can be no words of comfort that will make sense of what happened that day, please be aware that our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.  We share in their grief," the statement said.

For all his efforts to be part of the neo-Nazi world, some of the most prominent websites of the white power movement condemned the attack and labeled Page as crazy and a coward.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Wis. Temple Shooting Hero Cop Brian Murphy Shot 8 Times, Waved Off Aid

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- A police officer shot at least eight times in the neck and extremities outside the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis, waved off fellow officers attempting to rescue him and indicated they should assist others still inside.

Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, was shot Sunday and is now recovering in the hospital after a second surgery, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. The 21-year veteran of the police force is expected to survive.

"[Murphy] received eight or nine gunshot wounds, to extremities and also to the cheek area and the neck," Edwards said. "He was in very close proximity to the shooter. When he arrived, he came upon someone who was injured, and he was going to assist that individual when the shooter came around him, close to his squad, and hit him at a close distance."

The officer was wearing a bullet proof vest, Edwards said.

After gunman Wade Page was shot and killed by other officers, they moved to rescue Murphy. But when they located him, Murphy indicated that rather than help him they should enter the temple to assist any other victims.

"He had been shot nine times -- one of them very serious in the neck area -- and he waved them off and told them to go into the temple to assist those in there," Edwards said.

Murphy was the first police officer to respond to the scene when 911 calls began pouring into the police department around 10:25 a.m. after the gunman, Army veteran Wade Michael Page, opened fire at the Sikh religious center just south of Milwaukee.

Murphy, who Edwards said was a member of Oak Creek police department's tactical team for years, was the first officer to encounter Page when he arrived at the scene.

Officers arriving on the scene just after Murphy heard the exchange of gunfire, but were not aware that an officer had been shot, Edwards said. The officers soon observed Page walking through the parking lot and began to give him commands to drop his weapon and put his hands up. Page responded with gunfire, spraying two police vehicles with bullets. At that point one of the officers on the scene shot and killed him.

When Murphy didn't answer his call, his colleagues realized he had been hurt and searched for him.

Murphy underwent surgery at Froedtert Hospital, the main trauma center in the Milwaukee region, along with two other injured victims. All three of the victims remained in critical condition as of Monday, according to a representative from Froedtert Hospital.

Murphy was born in Brooklyn but moved to the Midwest to be closer to his wife's family, his father James Murphy told ABC News. He has a daughter who currently lives in South Korea and two stepchildren from his second wife.

In the wake of the shooting New York-based Sikhs for Justice has pledged $10,000 award to Murphy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Wisconsin Temple Shooting: Alleged Gunman Identified as Army Vet

Oak Creek Police Handout(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- Former soldier Wade Michael Page was identified today as the lone gunman who killed six people at a Sikh religious center in Oak Creek, Wis.

Page was described by authorities Monday as an Army veteran who left the service with a general discharge following a "pattern of misconduct," including being AWOL and drunk while on duty. The terms of his discharge would not allow him to reenlist.

Officials said they believe Page alone was responsible for Sunday's shooting.

Page, 40, served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998, during which he was demoted from sergeant to specialist.

While in the Army Wade served in Ft. Bliss in Texas and at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Wade's job was as a Hawk missile system repairman, and he then became a psychological operations specialist, a defense official confirmed to ABC news.

The ex-soldier is believed to be the gunman who opened fire on people at the Sikh temple around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and killed six people. The victims ranged in age from 39 to 84.

He also ambushed police Lt. Brian Murphy, shooting him eight or nine times, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. Murphy is expected to survive. Two other gunshot victims are in critical condition, police said.

Page was shot dead by police when he was ordered to drop his weapon and began firing at them instead.

Police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, but Teresa Carlson, the FBI's special agent in charge, said today, "We are looking at ties to white supremacist groups."

Earlier, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco; Firearms Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists.

Page fronted a white supremacist rock band called End Apathy, according to watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC also determined that in 2000, Page attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi group the National Alliance, described as America's then "most important hate group."

In 2010, Page gave an interview to white-power website Label 56. Page wrote songs with titles like "Self Destruct" and "Usefull [sic] Idiots."

"The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole," Page told Label 56.

The ATF today said Page legally purchased the 9mm handgun with multiple ammunition magazines, he used during the rampage. The weapon bought at The Shooters Shop in West Allis, Wis., sources told ABC News.

Carlson and other officials said investigators had no "reason to believe" Page was planning Sunday's attack.

"We didn't have an active investigation into him prior to yesterday," she told reporters today.

On Sunday the FBI and a bomb squad arrived at a home in Cudahy, Wis., near Oak Creek, and ABC News Milwaukee affiliate WISN reported the action appeared to be related to the temple shootings earlier in the day.

"The officer stopped a tragic event that could've been a lot worse," Edwards told reporters.

Four people were found dead inside the temple and two others were found dead outside the building. Edwards said authorities were treating the event as a domestic terrorism incident and the FBI would be conducting a full investigation.

Individuals attending Sunday services at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, just south of Milwaukee, fled in all directions when a gunman entered and began firing. Many hid in bathrooms or other rooms within the temple while the shooter attacked, according to police.

On Sundays, Sikh temples, called gurudwaras, serve a community meal at which anyone is welcome as part of their community service. The meal, known as a langar, follows the morning services.

The Sikh religion originated in the Punjab region of India.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Officials Believe 'Skinhead' Behind Sikh Temple Shooting in Wisconsin

Scott Olson/Getty Images(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- Seven people were shot and killed Sunday morning at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in what officials are treating as a case of domestic terrorism.

ABC News confirmed on Monday that the alleged gunman is Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran who served from April 1992 through October 1998.

While police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, sources have told ABC News the shootings are the work of a "white supremacist" or "skinhead."

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists.

"It is being investigated.  And what his tattoos signified is being investigated.  They are all pieces of a possible puzzle to learn what was his motive in carrying out such a horrific act," Ahern said.

Sunday evening, the FBI and a bomb squad arrived at a home in Cudahy, Wis., near Oak Creek, and ABC News' Milwaukee affiliate WISN-TV reported the action appeared to be related to the temple shootings earlier in the day.

Authorities also were trying to trace a single, semiautomatic handgun recovered at the scene, sources told ABC News.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead, three people -- two adult male civilians and a male police officer -- were in critical condition and were being treated at a local hospital, said officials at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin.  None of the victims have been identified.

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The apparent gunman was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire with the wounded police officer outside the temple and was one of the seven dead.

"The officer stopped a tragic event that could've been a lot worse," Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told reporters.

Four people were found dead inside the temple and two others were found dead outside the building.  Edwards said authorities were treating the event as a domestic terrorism incident and the FBI would be conducting a full investigation.

"The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate today's shooting incident," FBI Milwaukee Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson said in a written statement.  "This remains an active investigation in its early stages.  While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time.  We know our community has been deeply impacted by this incident, and our thoughts are with those affected and particularly with the officer who was wounded in the line of duty to protect others."

President Obama was told about the shooting around 1 p.m. Sunday and released a statement later in the afternoon.

"At this difficult time, the people of Oak 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," Obama said.  "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," he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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