A Midison, Wis., Sikh leader called the Sunday attack on worshippers at a temple in a
Milwaukee suburb "unfortunate" and said members of the Sikh community will not
"We cannot be cowed down by violence," said Udaivir Singh Sirohi, treasurer of the Sikh Society of Wisconsin-Madison/Middleton.
"It was very unfortunate, but it does not scare us because the Sikh religion frowns upon fear. We are supposed to be fearless," Sirohi said of the violence.
Seven people, including a gunman shot by a police officer, were killed, police said. Three others, including an officer, were in critical condition at a local hospital Sunday night.
Sirohi was in a worship service himself at the society's house of worship, known as a gurdwara, in Middleton when the shooting took place Sunday morning, but he said several people known to his congregation were injured in Oak Creek.
At a news conference Sunday, Oak Creek police said the shooting was being investigated as a "domestic terrorist-type incident."
Police said there was a lone gunman.
Middleton temple takes no action
Police in New York and Chicago said Sunday they would give Sikh temples special attention now. But the Middleton temple at 6970 Century Ave., in Middleton Hills, took no safety precautions after Sunday's attack.
"I trust in God, and trust in government, and in the city of Middleton to protect us," Sirohi said. "We feel protected."
As soon as Middleton police learned about the shooting, officers visited the temple to make sure the local Sikh community felt secure, said Sgt. Darrin Zimmerman.
"Really kind of making ourselves available," he said of the visit.
Madison police, meanwhile, checked to see if there were any Sikh temples in their jurisdiction, and found there were none, said Sgt. Matt Schroedl.
The Sikh Society of Wisconsin-Madison/Middleton was established in the mid-1990s, said Harjinder Pangli, a member of the Society's board of directors. The current temple was built in 2008.
The local group has about 250 members and about 125 come to worship each Sunday, Pangli said.
The Sikh community in the area also numbers about 250, he said.
"Everybody comes here," he said.
There are more than 25 million Sikhs throughout the world, with about 700,000 in the United States, according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Observant Sikhs are distinguished by their uncut hair and Sikh turbans called dastaars.
The Sikh religion is fairly young, founded in South Asia by Guru Nanak about 500 years ago, according to SALDEF, a Sikh American civil rights and educational organization.
In Oak Creek, Anand Adavi, president of the Hindu Temple of Wisconsin in the Waukesha County community of Pewaukee, visited the scene to show support for the Sikh community.
"We are absolutely stunned about this shocking incident that has happened," Adavi said as he was surrounded by an international group of journalists. "We would like to take every action possible to give them the support and bring everybody together in this grave time."
The Hindu temple is scheduled to hold a gathering tonight to pray for those in the Sikh community, he said.
SALDEF put out a statement Sunday about the shooting in Oak Creek.
"Houses of worship, like the gurdwara, are places of peace," it said. "Attacks at any of the nation's houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans. This type of crime strikes at the very foundation of religious tolerance, the principle upon which this country was built."
Masood Akhtar, of the Madinah Community Center, a Muslim religious center on Madison's West Side, also issued a statement Sunday.
"Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the victims and their families ...," it read. "We should all work together to avert similar tragedies from happening in the future."
-- Reporter Barry Adams and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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