At least seven people were killed, including one shooter, just after 10 a.m. Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, police said.
Four of the dead were inside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and three of the dead, including a shooter, were outside the temple.
A police SWAT team entered the building before noon and brought uninjured people out of the building, 7512 S. Howell Ave.
They started removing injured people from the temple’s prayer room.
SWAT team members were still sweeping the building about 1 p.m. and an explosion was heard from the building at that time. It was unclear what the explosion was.
The gunman – who apparently was acting alone – was reportedly brought down after an exchange of gunfire with police. One of the officers, a twenty-year old veteran of the local police force, survived despite being hit multiple times. He is being cared for at an area hospital.
Police have not released any information about the alleged perpetrator, nor confirmed the names of the dead.
Today’s tragedy in Wisconsin is sadly just the latest in a series of mass shootings that have claimed the lives of many good people in this country over the last few years. Just a few weeks ago, a gunman (believed to be James Holmes) opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing twelve (Jonathan Blunk, Alexander J. Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn, Micayla Medek, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Alex Sullivan, Alexander C. Teves, Rebecca Wingo) and wounding dozens.
Holmes is being prosecuted for the murders.
Last year, Jared Lee Loughner approached a group of people gathered for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” in Tucson, Arizona, and allegedly opened fire, killing six people (Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy “Dot” Morris, John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman) and wounding fourteen, including Congresswoman Giffords.
Loughner is being prosecuted for the murders.
Prior to those tragedies, there were the Hartford Distributors shooting in 2010 (in which eight people were killed, not including the perpetrator), the Fort Hood rampage in 2009 (in which thirteen people were killed), the Virgina Tech massacre in 2007 (in which thirty-two people were killed). The list goes on, and on, and on.
Most of the perpetrators (or alleged perpetrators) of recent mass shootings have been men, and many were mentally unstable men.
Semiautomatic weapons (which have no useful purpose except to kill or injure human beings) were used by several of the gunmen.
The list of locations where the atrocities have been committed includes just about every conceivable kind of public place: schools and universities, workplaces, strip malls, houses of worship, cafes (in the Seattle area’s case), even an Army base.
According to Mother Jones, there have been at least fifty-seven mass murders carried out with firearms since 1982, in thirty of the fifty states.
That’s a rate of nearly three per year.
Today’s tragedy means the list will only grow longer. And unfortunately, our elected leaders’ response probably won’t go beyond expressing condolences and committing resources to aid in the forthcoming investigation by local authorities.
To their credit, both presidential candidates wasted no time in saying something after the news of the shootings broke.
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin,” President Barack 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.”
“Ann and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of today’s shooting in Wisconsin,” presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney said. “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. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead.”