Leaders from Wisconsin and around the country are now trying to bring perspective to a at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.
At roughly 10:30 a.m,. a gunman opened fire in the temple, and police received an unintelligible call from inside the temple. An Oak Creek police officer who was first to the scene was shot multiple times by a gunman outside the temple, but is expected to survive. An officer shot the gunman and that person is presumed dead.
The tragedy has led other state and national leaders to weigh in on the shooting in an effort to bring some perspective to an event that is so fresh in the minds of all involved.
President Barack Obama released a statement Sunday that said:
“At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.
“As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also offered words of support:
“Ann and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of today’s shooting in Wisconsin. This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship. Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community."
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Sunday’s shooting in Oak Creek comes on the heels of a shooting at a theater in Aurora, CO, that left 12 dead and 58 injured. On Friday, a 23-year-old man shot and killed his factory supervisor and then turned the gun on himself on Milwaukee‘s north side.
Congressman Paul Ryan represents Oak Creek as part of the First Congressional District. He issued a statement Sunday afternoon asking citizens to come together and support the Sikh community and their beliefs in peace and justice:
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and everyone in Oak Creek who has been impacted by this tragic act of violence. I’m deeply saddened by this malicious crime and remain grateful for the selfless, dedicated service of the emergency response teams and law enforcement officials who continue to investigate this matter. As additional details are gathered, I am hopeful that we will all come together, united in a shared desire for peace and justice, and stand with the Sikh community as we grieve this loss of life.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also asked people around the state and country to join in prayer for the victims and the families. He said:
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence. At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends.
“Tonette and I ask everyone to join us in praying for the victims and their families, praying for the safety of our law enforcement and first responder professionals and praying for strength and healing for this entire community and our state.”
U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Tommy Thompson asked others around the country to unite in the face of tragedy.
"My heart goes out to those in the Sikh Community who had their profession of faith interrupted by a senseless act of violence,” Thompson said. “Together, as a community of faith, we have an obligation to come together in a show of support during a time of sadness and challenge.”
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele perhaps captured the mood accurately. Although issuing a statement, he conceded that words may not exist to describe what occurred Sunday.
“This is not only an act of extreme violence, it is also an act of evil. It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this afternoon,“ Abele said. “Our prayers and condolences go out to those killed and injured, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event. We are grateful for the bravery and immediate work by local, state and federal law enforcement.”