Hundreds gather for service honoring Sikh shooting victims

August 10, 2012 2:38:03 PM PDT
Mourners from across the globe gathered Friday in suburban Wisconsin to remember the six victims killed last Sunday by a white supremacist.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the deadly shooting rampage at a Sikh temple was an attack on the values of America itself.

Six caskets were placed in a high school gymnasium in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Photos of the victims flashed across a large video screen.

"Today we mourn you, we pray with you and we support you," said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

They came from all around. Family, friends, neighbors and dignitaries, honoring those killed in the Sikh temple shootings. Six open, wooden caskets of the victims were on display.

In Sikh tradition, all mourners cover their heads with scarves, no matter their religion. The message from Governor Walker and other speakers was all about love, tolerance and America as one.

"This week, our friends and neighbors in the Sikh community have shown us the best way to respond is with love," said Walker. "Let me be one of the many here in Wisconsin, across America and around the world to reflect that love to each of you."

"No matter where you come from or how you worship, once you are here, you are part of the American family, Holder said. "This also is the Sikh community in our country."

It was on Sunday that 40-year-old Wade Michael page chose to attack. Authorities say the Army veteran with links to racist groups acted alone, opening fire and killing five men, one woman and injuring several others.

One of the victims, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was the president and founder of the temple. Darian Rodriguez Heyman is his son-in-law.

"He was a devout man who was a Sikh scholar interested in culture and religious history that is really founded on religious pluralism of tolerance and acceptance, which only underscores the irony of what happened," Heyman said.

The temple reopened Thursday. One bullet hole in the prayer hall has reportedly been left unrepaired as a memorial to the shooting victims.

Friday, a community member asked Sikhs in India not to let the misguided actions of one create a false image of America: "Please don't burn the American flags. America is not one person. America is not one place where people are one color and try to make this country great. I am American Sikh."

The bodies of the victims will eventually be cremated.

Four people were injured in the shooting, including one man who remains in critical condition.

The FBI says the gunman killed himself after being wounded by police.


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