Sikh temple shooting victims in critical condition

(CBS News) OAK CREEK, Wis. - Investigators in a Milwaukee suburb will have more to say later Monday morning about Sunday's shooting rampage. The gunman killed six people before he was shot dead by a police officer. Three others, including another police officer, are still in critical condition.

Federal sources confirmed to CBS News that the gunman has been identified as Wade Michael Page, 40, a military veteran. His alleged motive remains unknown.

The shooting happened at a Sikh temple just outside of Milwaukee. Police said they are treating this as a domestic-terrorism-type incident, yet the 400 members of this religious community are wondering whether this was a hate crime.

It was shortly after 10:30 in the morning when the shots began at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

Witnesses described a scene of terror and carnage as people hid in closets and prayer rooms. In the end, the gunman killed six people. Two were killed outside in the parking lot.

"My brother in law was inside there ... I heard he got shot from the back. This is a big tragedy for our church. Our church, we always felt this was a safe place," one woman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

When the first officer arrived on the scene, he was ambushed by the gunman, shot at least 10 times. He remains in critical condition. A second officer shot and killed the suspect.

"Because of the heroic actions of our officers, they stopped this from being worse than it could have been," Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told reporters.

Officers spent the afternoon combing what they believe could be the suspect's neighborhood in nearby Cudahy for clues. Neighbors said the man police are investigating moved in just two weeks ago.

"Nobody's really seen anything," said Alma Rayes. "We've heard here and there that they've been doing a lot of arguing and fighting between him and another female, but I haven't seen him."

At a prayer vigil Sunday night, the Sikh community gathered to mourn their loss.

"It's a tragedy for our religion, but another way we are peace-loving people," said one woman. "We need to respect each other's religion and be very considerate and be loving."

Sikhism is a religion that began about 500 years ago in India. Because the men often let their beards grow out and they often wear turbans, they're often confused with Muslims, and since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks members of this religion have often been the subject hate-crime attacks.

Sources told CBS News that the police are investigating this as a potential race-based hate crime. That's based in part upon the evidence they've found, including tattoos on the suspect's body.

  • Ben Tracy

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom