Wisconsin: At least six people were killed on Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, and the suspected shooter later died in an exchange of gunfire with police, authorities said.
Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the suburb of Oak Creek, where witnesses said several dozen people were gathering for a service. Authorities found four people dead inside the temple and two outside, Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said.
Sunny Singh, 21, of Milwaukee, said a friend pulled into the temple's parking lot, heard shots and saw two people fall down. The friend then saw the shooter reload his weapons and head to the temple's entrance, Singh said.
The first police officer to arrive at the temple engaged in gunfire outside the building with a man police believe was the shooter, Wentlandt said. The suspect was killed, he said.
Tactical units went through the temple, and authorities do not believe a second shooter was involved, Wentlandt said.
It's unclear how many others were wounded. Wentlandt said he had been told the officer who exchanged gunfire with the suspect and another person had been taken to hospitals. He said the officer was shot multiple times and is in surgery and is expected to survive.
The spokeswoman for the area trauma center said three victims were being treated there, including one who was in surgery.
Jatin Der Mangat, 38, of Racine, the nephew of the temple's president, Satwant Singh Kaleka, said his uncle was one of those shot, but he didn't know how serious his injuries were. He was among those waiting for news when police announced the deaths.
"It was like the heart just sat down," he said. "This shouldn't happen anywhere."
Sukhwindar Nagr, also of Racine, said he called his brother-in-law's phone and a priest at the temple answered and told him that his brother-in-law had been shot, along with three priests. The priest also said women and children were hiding in closets in the temple, Nagr said.
Wentlandt did not identify the suspect or say what might have motivated the shootings.
Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs don't practice the same religion as Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel cited Greenfield, Wisconsin, Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt as telling reporters that four of the deceased are inside the temple and three deceased outside, including the shooter.
As reports of the firing came in, the Indian Embassy here got in touch with the National Security Council in Washington and deputed an official to visit the site to ascertain the situation on-the-spot.
The Embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the NSC, it said in a statement. "Our Consulate General in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation."
Oak Creek police received multiple calls about the shooting. When the police officer, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, arrived at the scene, he and the shooter exchanged multiple rounds and the officer was shot multiple times, Wentlandt said.
The officer was wounded but "returned fire, and that shooter was put down," Wentlandt, told reporters.
He is in surgery and his condition is not known. The shooter is "down at the scene and is presumed deceased," Wentlandt added.
He called it "an ongoing and very fluid situation".
"At this time, we don't know if there are additional shooters inside the temple," he said. SWAT teams were combing through the temple, he said.
Some people are believed to be trapped inside, and at least one gunman may still be inside, Alderman Dan Jakubczyk told CNN. "As far as I know, it is still an active situation," Jakubczyk said.
Members of the police SWAT team have begun removing the injured from the temple's prayer room, the Journal-Sentinel reported.
Among those shot was Satwant Kaleka, president of the temple, Greenfield, Wisconsin, Wentlandt told the Journal-Sentinel.