Washington: As federal investigators searched for a motive for Sunday`s attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin, President Barack Obama ordered the US flag to be flown at half mast until Aug 10 in honour of the victims.
He also called for a "soul searching" to find ways to reduce violence in America as these kinds of terrible, tragic events were happening with too much regularity.
"All of us are heartbroken by what`s happened," Obama told reporters Monday after a bill signing ceremony at the Oval office when asked if he would push for further gun control measures in the wake of the killings at the gurdwara in Oak Creeks.
"I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence," he said.
While, it was not yet fully know what motivated the gunman to carry out this terrible act, Obama said Americans would "recoil" in shock if it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of the worshippers.
"I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another," he said.
Earlier, at a White House briefing Press Secretary Jay Carney also parried a question about the push for gun control recalling that Obama had made clear that his administration will provide all necessary support in response to the incident.
Carney acknowledged that "Sikhs have been targeted in America in the past, since 9/11, because they have been believed to be Muslims" and said violence "whether it`s against Sikhs or Muslims, this is clearly horrible and unacceptable."
At the State Department Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is currently in South Africa had spoken to Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna over the phone on the gurdwara shooting.
US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also telephoned India`s Ambassador Nirupama Rao "to condemn this tragedy and convey our deep sympathy and condolences".