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Sikh temple congregant: 'I don't know why these people do this'

Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Family who have poeple in Sikh Temple, on 7512 S. Howell Ave., in Oak Creek, where the shooting occurred twait to hear information. Family members of people in the temple were trying to find information about their loved ones in Oak Creek on Sunday August 5, 2012. Oak Creek August 5, 2012. Photo by Mike De Sisti / MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM Photo: Image by Credit: Mike De Sisti

Sikh temple congregant: 'I don't know why these people do this'

By Justin A. Metzger. CREATED Aug 5, 2012

MILWAUKEE - We're hearing from family members and congregants of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, the scene of a mass shooting late Sunday morning.

Simran Kaleka is a member of the temple, and is the niece of Satwant Kaleka, the president of the temple.  Kaleka wasn't at the temple when the shooting happened.
 
"I was waiting at the corner of Howell and Rawsom because [the police] wouldn't even let me in," Kaleka said.  "I had to tell them I was family and then they let me in."
 
Kaleka says her uncle, the temple president, was one of the shooting victims, but is still trying to find out the status of the rest of her family.
 
"Some are out," she said.  "Some are in the hospital who are wounded.  A lot of them are still in there; kids, little cousins, aunts, they're still in there.  My best friend, they're in there too, her mom and her family are in there."  
 
She also says some of her friends and family were still in the temple when she spoke with Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Dan O'Donnell.
 
"No one was answering their phones because a lot of them couldn't answer their phones in there," Kaleka explained.  "They had all the mothers and ladies locked up in a room.  Kids are in the basement.  Don't know where the men are."
 
Harbreet Singh is a fellow congregant at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.  He says they're a very peaceful congregation.
 
"Every Sunday we have a Sunday mass, you know?" said Singh.  "We come here to pray.  This was an unexpected to happen.  There was nobody armed.  We come here for pray, you know?  Don't have getting guns and there was nobody to defend them."
 
Singh also says he he feels helpless and angry over the incident.
 
"I don't know why these people do this, you know?" Singh said, distraught.  "These are peaceful people.  They just come here.  This is the kind of hate crime that should be stopped and should be done something about."
 
State Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, also spoke with Newsradio 620 WTMJ.  The temple is not in his district, but he says a number of the congregants do live in his district, and says he's personal friends with temple president Satwant Kaleka.
 
"It's gutwrenching," Rep. Zepnick said.  "The Sikh are a very peace-loving community.  They've assimilated into the mainstream of Metropolitan Milwaukee and American culture...Being at temple in the morning is one of those places where you're safe.  You can speak your language, and you can feel a little bit like you're at home.  And you can renew yourself spiritually before you go back into the week, much like the rest of us."
 
Both Newsradio 620 WTMJ and Today's TMJ4 remain on scene covering the story and speaking with friends and family members on scene.