Updated: Palatine Gurdwara Leaders React to Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting
Seven people, including the shooter, are dead after a rampage during morning services in Oak Creek, WI.
Updated 6:20 p.m.: Palatine Police Commander Tom Murphy tells Patch department representatives met earlier with leaders of the Palatine Gurdwara, and patrols will be increased in the area around the clock.
Murphy said the police presence will be heightened, especially during services, but all information received so far indicate the incident was isolated, and is not a regional threat.
Earlier: The Wisconsin Sikh Temple tragedy has reached the hearts of the Sikh religion’s brothers and sisters who belong to the Palatine Gurdwara.
A shooter entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek during morning services and began shooting. Seven people, including the shooter, are confirmed dead.
“As soon as we heard [about] it, it was dreadful, heartbreaking. It is things like this that make us lose our trust, and the openness that our religion encourages fires back on us,” said Sukhdev Ghuman, president of the Palatine Gurdwara.
Ghuman said a handful of the 2,500 members who attend services at the Gurdwara went to Oak Creek earlier today to track down loved ones and offer what assistance they could to the survivors and to the families who lost someone.
“One of our members who already traveled to Wisconsin contacted his sister, and she was luckily not there during the shooting because she and her family were running late,” Ghuman said.
The entire Gurdwara prayed earlier this afternoon for those who are injured and those who lost their lives.
“These people came for peace and worship, they did not ask to die,” Ghuman said.
Ghuman said a vigil will be arranged in the coming days at the Palatine Gurdwara. The service will include special prayer sessions to draw strength from God for those who have suffered because of the murderous rampage.
Dr. Balwant Hansra, past president of the Gurdwara, said crimes against members of their religion have occurred in the past at their Palatine location.
“After 9-11, many people thought we were related to Osama bin Laden, even though their followers don’t wear turbans or beards, and we received very poor, hateful treatment because of it,” Hansra said.
In the late 1970’s, Hansra said 13 windows were broken after Ayatollah Khomeini caused unrest in Iraq. It cost the Gurdwara $2,500 per window to replace them.
“This entire incident is a shock. We believe in brotherhood, sisterhood and humanity, and pray for our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin now,” Hansra said.
Both leaders are reconsidering the food pantry that is open to everyone in light of the tragedy, out of fear for the well-being and safety of their members.
A dispatcher for the Palatine Police Department, who did not give his name, said police have a heightened level of awareness in the area of the Gurdwara due to the Wisconsin shooting.