Satpal Kaleka, wife of the temple president, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was in the front room and saw the gunman enter the temple, according to Harpreet Singh, their nephew. “He did not speak, he just began shooting,” said Mr. Singh, relaying a description of the attack from Satpal Kaleka.
Ms. Kaleka said the six-foot tall bald white man, who worshippers said they had never before seen at the temple, seemed like he had a purpose and knew where he was going.
“We never thought this could happen to our community,” said Devendar Nagra (48) of Mount Pleasant, whose sister escaped injury by hiding as the gunman fired in the temple’s kitchen. “We never did anything wrong to anyone.”
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said police expected to release more information Monday. He said the FBI will lead the investigation because the shootings are being treated as domestic terrorism, or an attack that originated inside the U.S.
“While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time,” Teresa Carlson, Special Agent in Charge with the agency’s Milwaukee division, said in a statement Sunday night.
During a chaotic few hours after the first shots were fired around 10:30 a.m. (14:30 GMT), police in tactical gear and carrying assault rifles surrounded the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin with armoured vehicles and ambulances. Witnesses struggled with unrealised fears that several shooters were holding women and children hostage inside.
Police said the gunman “ambushed” one of the first officers to arrive at the temple as the officer — a 20-year veteran with tactical experience — tended to a victim outside. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot. Police had earlier said the officer who was shot killed the suspected shooter. The wounded officer was in critical condition along with two other victims Sunday night, authorities said. The police said the officer was expected to survive. Tactical units went through the temple and found four people dead inside and two outside, in addition to the shooter.
Jatinder Mangat (38), another nephew of the temple president, said his uncle was among those shot, but he didn’t know the extent of his injuries. When Mr. Mangat later learned people had died, he said “it was like the heart just sat down”.
Gurpreet Kaur (24) said her mother was among a group of about 14 other women preparing a meal in the temple kitchen when the gunman entered and started firing. Ms. Kaur said her mother felt two bullets fly by her as the group fled to the pantry. Her mother suffered what Ms. Kaur thought was shrapnel wound in her foot.
“These are people I’ve grown up with,” she said. “They’re like aunts and uncles to me. To see our community to go through something like this is numbing.”
Ms. Kaur said she spent the afternoon serving as a translator between law enforcement and survivors at a nearby bowling alley. Police investigators kept witnesses inside the bowling alley’s basement into the evening. “We don’t even know who’s downstairs,” said Ravi P. Singh (25) after going to the bowling alley to see if he could get more information about what had happened.
Police in New York and Chicago issued statements saying they were giving Sikh temples in those cities additional attention as a precaution