Update: During a press conference at 4:00 PM CDT, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards announced that the incident is being treated as a case of domestic terrorism and that the FBI and ATF will be involved in the investigation. He also clarified earlier reports by explaining that the first police officer on the scene was shot multiple times, and it was a second officer who then engaged and killed the shooter. He promised that more information will be available when the next press conference is held at 10:00 AM Monday morning.
The gunman who opened fire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin around 10:25 a.m Sunday morning is presumed dead, according to Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt.
Police said that four people were killed inside the Sikh temple in Oak Creek and three, including the gunman, were killed outside. Police have not identified any additional gunmen, but have not ruled out the possibility of a second shooter.
“An officer arrived on scene. He engaged an active shooter. The officer was shot multiple times. He has been transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive,” Wentlandt said. “The shooter was put down.”
It is unknown how many people may have been injured in the shooting. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that as many as 20 to 30 people could be injured.
The suspect has been described as a large, white male wearing a sleeveless shirt.
Witnesses said the man shot a priest outside the temple, then entered the building and began shooting. Many inside the temple locked themselves in rooms and called other members of the temple to warn them of the shooting. Initial reports suggested there was a hostage situation, but those reports appear to have been incorrect. Many of the details of the shooting are still unclear.
Police said the building is now secure.
Three men have been taken to Froedtert hospital. They are in critical condition. The hospital has prepared for a “mass casualty incident.”
Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims because of their traditional headwear, and have been the victim of hate crimes targeting Muslims. However, the motive of the shooter is unclear at this point.
“We have no idea,” one member of the temple told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “It’s pretty much a hate crime. It’s not an insider.”
Wisconsin state Rep. Josh Zepnick (D) described the Sikh religion as “beautiful.” He said there were thousands of Sikhs living in the area.
“This is like family,” he told Fox 6 News, breaking into tears. “I don’t understand what is going on… this is going to reverberate for many years to come.”
[Crime scene image via Shutterstock]