Sikh Temple shooting being treated as domestic terrorism, Oak Creek police say

| August 5, 2012

The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek about 10:15 a.m. Sunday that left seven people dead, including the shooter, and three people injured is being treated as a domestic terrorist incident, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said.

Oak Creek police officers who responded to a 911 call about the shooting were helping a victim when the shooter ambushed one of the officers, shooting the officer multiple times.

A second Oak Creek officer returned fire, killing the shooter, Edwards said.

The wounded officer, described as at least a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon and was expected to survive, Edwards said during a 4 p.m. news conference.

Of those killed, four of the dead were inside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and three of the dead, including the shooter, were outside the temple.

Shortly after 5 p.m., neighbors said a team of law enforcement officers, including from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, had entered a home in Cudahy. It was unclear whose home it is and how the search may be related to the shooting itself.

Police have cordoned off the 3700 block of E. Holmes Ave., just south of downtown Cudahy. A large contingent of law enforcement and fire department vehicles are in the vicinity. The neighborhood was being evacuated.

Ted Slater, a neighbor, said the property police were searching was the second floor of a two-story duplex. It's a two-story white duplex with red trim. Slater said police had been searching the other level and that police were seen on the upper-level balcony behind the building.

A military-style Humvee with FBI markings on the side of it moved up the street shortly after 6 p.m. with its lights flashing, moving along the west end of the block.. Authorities in green military uniforms with FBI insignia were seen moving up and down an alley and a street near the duplex.

Alma Reyes lives on the corner, three houses from the property in question. She was unable to get to her home with her two young daughters. She said the duplex had been vacant until recently.

At the temple shooting scene, a police SWAT team entered the building, 7512 S. Howell Ave, before noon and brought uninjured people out. Members of the Milwaukee Police Department tactical team and the Milwaukee County Sheriff Department tactical team helped with clearing and securing the building.

At the 4 p.m. briefing, Edwards said the building is secure and tactical officers were standing down. He said the officers who arrived on the scene "stopped a tragedy that could have been a lot worse."

Edwards said he could not release any information on the shooter, including what the shooter was wearing, saying there are "multiple reports" of different things. He said there were multiple weapons at the scene, but did not say how many or what variety.

Names of the victims also were not being released.

Officials indicated no more information would be released until a briefing at 10 a.m. Monday. They said the FBI will lead the investigation. While some witnesses reported there may have been a second shooter, authorities said there was no indication of that.

A hotline has been established for family members looking for information on those involved. The number is (888) 298-1964.

White House officials said President Barack Obama was notified of the shootings shortly before 1 p.m. by John Brennan, his Homeland Security adviser. The president continues to receive updates.

After receiving a briefing at 4:30 p.m. from Brennan, FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Obama called Gov. Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and trustee of the Sikh Temple Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured.

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Category: Temple Security (Hindu and Sikh)

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