Oak Creek: Sikh communities across the United States are calling for vigilance and better public understanding of their religion after six people were shot dead at a temple in Wisconsin on Sunday.
Wade Michael Page, a US Army veteran and one-time trucker, has been identified as the shooter who killed six worshipers at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek before being shot to death himself.
Police have cordoned off the crime scene as investigators delve into the life of the 40-year-old suspect.
"(He is) very standoffish, he didn't communicate very well. I'd say 'hi' every time I got a chance. Sometimes I'd get a shrug or sometimes I'd get a 'hi.' That's about it," said David Brown, Page's former neighbour.
In search of a motive, police are exploring Page's involvement with US white supremacist groups. Page sang in a neo-Nazi punk rock band and was active in online hate forums. One friend said he spoke often of "racial holy war."
"What has changed in him, I have no idea. Obviously, we're never going to know," said Laurie Page, the suspect's ex-stepmother.
Several leaders of the Sikh community have said they hope to use this tragedy as an opportunity to raise awareness among Americans about their religion.
There's talk of holding open houses in Sikh temples across the country as well as inter-faith vigils and fund-raising efforts. In the meantime, services for those killed here are expected to begin on Friday.
"We just want peace," said a Sikh believer who survived the shooting. "We don't want anybody (to) get hurt because of their religions."
Story First Published: August 08, 2012 15:18 IST