Remembering the deadly Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting 10 years later

Seven people were killed in a terrorist attack fueled by hate
Pardeep Singh Kaleka stands in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek. His father,...
Pardeep Singh Kaleka stands in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek. His father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was killed in the mass shooting on August 5th, 2012.(Tim Elliott)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:19 AM CDT
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OAK CREEK, Wis. (WMTV) - The Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin has planned a weekend full of events to remember the lives of those killed 10 years ago in a mass shooting.

On August 5th, 2012, a white supremacist came to the temple in Oak Creek and shot and killed six people. A seventh person died from their injuries in 2020.

“There’s mixed feelings. In some ways it feels like 10 years has not passed. It feels just like yesterday,” said Pardeep Singh Kaleka. Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was one of the people shot and killed that day. Satwant was the president of the congregation and 65-years-old when he was killed.

“I remember the chaos, I remember some of the panic,” said Pardeep Kaleka. “I’m also thankful my son and daughter are alive. My mother was inside the temple at the time and she was able to live. So, there’s a lot to be grateful for. So I have mixed feelings about that day,”

Around 10:30 that morning, the shooter opened fire inside the temple. Authorities don’t know the exact motive but believe that the perpetrator was fueled by hate.

“There was really just disbelief that something like this could happen,” said Kiran Gill, Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal and Defense Fund.

Lt. Brian Murphy was the first responding police officer. He was shot 15 times by the shooter. Lt. Murphy miraculously survived.

Ten years after the deadly shooting, the Sikh community is still coping with the devastating loss on that day.

“I think even 10 years later -- working with this community here-- it’s still clear that there’s healing to do. It’s a long process. Something like this traumatizes a community,” said Gill. “The support and solidarity that this community has received has just been heartwarming,”

Pardeep Kaleka says his father was a man of strong faith.

“He was so proud to be a Sikh and so proud to be an American. My father flew an American flag in front of his house until the day he passed,” said Pardeep.

The Oak Creek mass shooting is just one a long list of mass shootings across the United States.

“It’s incredibly frustrating because there are things I know we can do about it. I think there are policies we can pass to stop this from happening,” said Pardeep. “People don’t want to have to think about when they drop off their children, whether they are going to get a phone call that there is a mass shooting,”

“The randomness of violence and escalation of violence is so troubling right now and I think that if we are not all concerned about it then we are living under a rock,” he said.

The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek has a vigil scheduled for Friday night from 6 until 9 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

There will also be several workshops on Saturday.

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