Since opening its doors nearly five years ago, the in Oak Creek has been a place where peaceful people came to worship, pray and express their religious feelings.
On Sunday, it was the site of a senseless violence, and the nation’s second mass shooting in just more than two weeks.
According to police, a gunman killed six people inside the temple and wounded dozens more, including an Oak Creek police officer, before being killed in a shootout Sunday morning. The incident, classifed by officials as "domestic terror," left temple members shocked and in disbelief.
"This is disgraceful for the community and the whole world,” one member, who drives from Madison to Sikh services in Oak Creek each Sunday, told Patch. “It's sad that this happened here, and I hope those victimized don't lose their faith in God."
About 100 members of the temple gathered outside the building on Howell Avenue as word of the shooting spread. Most were shocked that someone would open fire at a place of worship and said the shooting would hit the close-knit Sikh community hard.
"I hope those victimized don't lose their faith in God."
"I'm trying to hold it together outside," said 27-year-old Gurtreet Singh. “Inside, my insides are being torn apart," he said as he pointed to his heart.
Inderjeet Singh Dhillan, another member of the temple who was not inside at the time, said there have been no earlier problems at the Oak Creek facility.
"This is really scary and really unexpected," he said.
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One member told a local television station that the temple is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all are welcomed. That open-door police might have to change, following Sunday’s shooting.
"This isn't going to make me close-minded, but we're going to have to be more careful in the future with people entering the temple," member Lakhbir Signh told Patch.
Members described a horrific scene they pieced together second-hand accounts from their friends and family members who were inside the temple when the gunman opened fire.
One of the leaders of the temple said after the shooting started, some women hid in a closet for more than an hour. Another person who had friends inside the temple told Patch the shooting occurred during a morning service as the gunman opened fire on the victims.
"The priest called from inside (the temple) and said, "Send ambulances; send ambulances," another member said.