Washington: Officials investigating Sunday`s shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, have declined to release the names of the victims, but media reports have pieced together some details from the Sikh community.
Local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cited a frequent temple goer Manminder Sethi, a dentist who works in Brown Deer, as saying he knows one of the priests, Parkash Singh, who was killed.
Sethi said Singh, in his mid 30s, has lived in Oak Creek for several years and recently returned to India to bring his wife, daughter and son to live with him in Wisconsin.
Among those who were shot was the president of the temple, Satwant Kaleka, who was taken to Froedtert Hospital, the Journal Sentinel said.
His nephew Gurmit Kaleka said Satwant is 65-years-old. He is married with two grown sons. One is a former police officer. Satwant Kaleka has been president of the gurdwara since about 1996. He has never felt threatened or unsafe in any way.
Deepinder Dhaliwal said Satwant Kaleka, his brother in law, was shot in the back. Dhaliwal said his sister, the president`s wife, called him while hiding inside the building with a few other women.
Darshan Dhaliwal, who identified himself as a leader at the temple, said between 20 and 25 women who were cooking a lunch in the basement for after the service and between five to 10 children had been able to leave the temple at about 1 pm.
Journal Sentinel quoted Dhaliwal as saying they heard the gunshots and hid in closets for more than an hour before escaping. Dhaliwal said the temple had not been the subject of any threats or graffiti recently.
Gulpreet Kaur`s mother was inside the kitchen when the shooting started. She took refuge inside a pantry with about 15 people.
"Two bullets passed by on either side of her, her friend was hit in the foot," said Kaur, 24, who grew up in Oak Creek.
Parminder Toor, 54, and other women also were in the kitchen, cooking at the time of the attack. She said two little kids ran in, an 8- and 10-year-old, and said there was shooting. They all ran into a pantry.
There were 16 people in the pantry for two hours and they were crying. All the food was left cooking in the kitchen, Journal Sentinel said.
The women could smell the oil burning as they continued to hide from the gunman. Eventually, police knocked on the door.
"The police officers knocked on the door, they were scared and didn`t want to open it," said Toor`s daughter-in-law, Jaskiran Toor, 27.
The police took the women out one by one and had them put their hands behind their head, Parminder Toor said. As they were leaving, the kitchen, the women were crying.
About 3,000 Sikh families live in southeastern Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel. A tight-knit community, they meet for religious services and to share meals at the Religious Society in Brookfield and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, in Oak Creek, which opened in 2007.