Sikhs leave bullet as tragedy reminder

Aug 11, 2012, 08:11 IST | Agencies

Almost a week after the US gurudwara shooting, congregants say they will leave bullet lodged in the premises as a reminder of the event and to pay tribute to the victims

Members of the Sikh temple where six people died in a weekend rampage swept, scrubbed and painted over damage to their building on Thursday after investigators allowed them back inside.

A lone bullet hole remained in a metal door frame, which members say won’t be repaired. The doorway leads to the main prayer area, where the only female victim — 41-year-old Paramjit Kaur — was killed.

Paying homage: Sikhs light a candle and pray for the departed souls. A small prayer ceremony was conducted at the gurudwara, allowing family and friends to grieve for those who lost their lives. Pic/AFP

But elsewhere, the congregation was busy polishing the tile floors, touching up patched drywall and replacing carpet, using donated supplies; and reopening the dining hall, where the Sikh run an open kitchen for the community. Several members wept as they walked in, while others embraced.

“It takes a toll on you, thinking about the lives that were lost, when you realise our gurudwara will never be the same again,” said Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka, whose uncle Satwant Singh Kaleka was among those dead.

Kaleka said it was hard coming back to the gurudwara but members returned as soon as police allowed them. Authorities have identified the man behind the rampage as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old former soldier-turned-front man for a white supremacist rock band. Page killed himself in the parking lot of the suburban Milwaukee gurudwara after being shot by a police officer, the FBI said Wednesday.

Investigators say they found no clues to explain why Page went on the killing spree. But standing with the relatives of other victims, Amardeep Kaleka, the son of the congregation’s slain leader, called the killings an act of cowardice.

“Simply put, our families — his mother, who left behind two beautiful boys ... our father, the four other victims, the people who were shot and are in the hospital, the police officer who did his job — they are heroes,” he said. “They were living the American dream. The other person was a coward. And at the end of the day, he should always be remembered as a coward.”

In addition to the six dead, three people — two temple members and a police officer who responded to Sunday’s attack — remained hospitalised on Thursday.

Unlikely heroes
Two young children have emerged as heroes after warning others of a gunman on a rampage at their gurudwara in Milwaukee.
Abhay Singh (11), and his sister, Amanat (9), were sitting outside the gurudwara on Sunday morning when the shooter, identified as Wade Michael Page, first opened fire on two people. “We ran as fast as we could inside to warn everybody there is a man outside with a gun,” said Abhay. “We were scared.” They hid in the pantry after sounding the alarm.

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