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Shooting at Wis. Sikh temple leaves 7 dead

10:14 PM, Aug 5, 2012   |    comments
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OAK CREEK, Wis. -- Authorities have evacuated parts of a neighborhood and are searching a home in a Milwaukee suburb northeast of the Sikh temple where an unknown gunman killed six people Sunday.

Officers have roped off four blocks in a neighborhood with a mix of duplexes and single-family homes in Cudahy, about six miles from the temple.

The owner of one of the duplexes says authorities are targeting his property.  Kurt Weins says authorities haven't told him why they're searching his duplex or whether it's related to the shooting.  He says he rented the duplex's upper unit to a man about a month ago.  He wouldn't identify the tenant.

Milwaukee County sheriff's spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin says the department's bomb squad also on the scene, but has no details about why it was called.

The police chief says the suspect "ambushed" one of the first officers to arrive at the scene as the officer tended to a shooting victim.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards says the suspect shot the officer multiple times outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.  A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect and fatally shot him.

Edwards says the officer who was ambushed is undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital and is expected to survive.

Police earlier said the officer who was shot had killed the gunman, but released updated information later Sunday afternoon.

The shooting happened at around 10:30 a.m. local time at the Sikh temple on South Howell Avenue.

Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt says tactical officers found four people inside the building and three people outside.

One of those killed outside is the suspect, who fired on the first officer to arrive, Wentlandt said. The officer reportedly fired back, killing the suspect. 

Wentlandt said police do not believe a second shooter was involved.

The FBI will now handle the investigation into the shootings. Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said the case is being treated as a domestic terrorism case, and the FBI is better equipped to handle it.

A SWAT team went into the building and brought out an undetermined number of injured people, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Three victims, all adult men in critical condition, were treated at a Milwaukee hospital. Froederdt Hospital Chief Medical Officer Lee Biblo said all had gunshot wounds to the face, abdomen and extremities.

The Associated Press said more than a dozen ambulances parked outside the temple, and police corralled media and a handful of bystanders to an area nearby.

Witnesses described the shooting as a hostage situation.

Sukhwindar Nagr of Racine, Wis., said he called his brother-in-law's phone and a priest at the temple answer. 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 were hiding in closets at the temple.

President Barack Obama said Sunday that he and first lady Michelle Obama are "deeply saddened" by the shootings.

In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama tells the people of Oak Creek that "the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers."

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded," the president says in his statement.

Obama also stressed "how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs," whom he describes as "part of our broader American family."

Sikhism is a religion founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. It is among the largest organized religions in the world, with more than 20 million Sikhs worldwide.

(Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY)

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