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Seven Dead in Shooting at Wisconsin Temple

A man sits on a rock as police investigate the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wis., after a shooting Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.  (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

August 5, 2012

Seven people were killed and three injured when a gunman opened fire during morning services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, confirmed Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards at a press conference Sunday afternoon.

A shootout with two police officers left the gunman dead and a 20-year veteran police officer injured with multiple gunwounds, according to Police Chief Edwards. The officer and two injured civilians were taken to a nearby hospital. Their conditions were unknown.

Law enforcement released no information about the gunman Sunday evening. However, CNN reported Monday morning that the suspect was a forty-year-old Army veteran.

 

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin," President Obama said in a statement. "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. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. 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."

President Obama spoke with FBI Director Bob Mueller, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Homeland Security Advisor Johhn Brennan to be briefed on the incident. He then made calls to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi, and trustee of the Sikh Temple Charanjeet Singh. 

The temple, which is a large facility south of Milwaukee, contained dozens of worshipers, including children, CNN reported. Many hid inside bathrooms and other facilities after the shooting started, using mobile phones to place 911 calls.

The case is currently being treated as a "domestic terrorist type incident" and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be heading the criminal investigation, according to Police Chief Edwards. CNN reported that two semi-automatic handguns were found at the scene, although law enforcement officials have not confirmed this.

In a statement, Mitt Romney called the shooting "a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship," adding that the thoughts and prayers of the Romney family are with the victims and their families.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence," Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said in statement.  "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."

In addition to the crime scene at the Sikh temple, AP reported that Wisconsin police evacuated homes and roped off four blocks in Cudahy, Wisconsin Sunday night, a suburb about six miles away from Oak Creek.

The shooting comes roughly two weeks after a gunman attacked movie goers in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, leaving 12 dead and dozens injured.

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