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Man who lost father in Sikh Temple shooting heads to Charleston: “Very similar to what happened here”

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina/OAK CREEK, Wisconsin -- Gunfire in a place of peace and prayer. Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire inside a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday night, June 17th. The suspected shooter has been arrested. This mass shooting is once again stirring up debate about gun laws -- as some in Oak Creek, Wisconsin remember what happened there three years ago this August.

The shooting in Charleston, South Carolina may have taken place miles away from Wisconsin -- but it is resonating here, especially with some with the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, responded to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church late Wednesday, June 17, 2015, following a shooting at the church. Nine people died when Dylann Roof opened fire in an apparent hate crime, police said.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, responded to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church late Wednesday, June 17, 2015, following a shooting at the church. Nine people died when Dylann Roof opened fire in an apparent hate crime, police said.

On August 5th, 2012, Wade Page entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and shot and killed six people. Four others were hurt. Page eventually took his own life after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer.

Page was a white supremacist from Cudahy.

All six of those killed were members of the Sikh faith.

sikh temple shooting victims

Amar Kaleka, whose father was killed in the Sikh Temple shooting says hearing the news of another mass shooting has left him disheartened.

"Your heart sinks. It just -- it's heartbroken for all those people, because you've lived it. You know that their life is never gonna be the same," Kaleka said.

Law enforcement officials are calling the shooting in Charleston a hate crime -- as the church where it occurred is described as historically African-American. The suspected shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof is white.

"It's very similar to what happened in Oak Creek," Kaleka said. "You feel for them, and you want to reach out and hug them, and you want to make sure that they're okay."

Sikh Temple Shooting Photo Credit: AP

Sikh Temple Shooting Photo Credit: AP

Kaleka is headed to Charleston this weekend to reach out to folks in the community and promote his organization Serve2Unite.

"What I'm gonna do is have conversations with community leaders, help where I can help, volunteer where I can volunteer, and then I'll have conversations with certain families that want to have those conversations," Kaleka said.

In time, Kaleka says those conversations should give way to other, much more pro-active discussions.

"I'm hoping to God that we can forgive -- we can get past the trauma that this man has caused and work on the deeper issues of socio-economics or of racial tension that has long been there," Kaleka said.

Kaleka's 65-year-old father, Satwant Singh Kaleka was the founder of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, responded to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church late Wednesday, June 17, 2015, following a shooting at the church. Nine people died when Dylann Roof opened fire in an apparent hate crime, police said.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, responded to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church late Wednesday, June 17, 2015, following a shooting at the church. Nine people died when Dylann Roof opened fire in an apparent hate crime, police said.

Google Map for coordinates 42.907909 by -87.908446.

2 comments

  • Viktor Zavadsky

    yes – these murders are exactly the same – at the church & at the gurdwara – crazed white supremacist terrorists with full support from Tea Party Republicans – they spout religious intolerance & racism – they create these maniacs – they want all of us annihilated …

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