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Suspect identified in temple shooting that killed 6

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A shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin left seven dead, including a suspect. (Source: WISN/CNN) A shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin left seven dead, including a suspect. (Source: WISN/CNN)

OAK CREEK, WI (RNN) – A suspect has been named in a shooting at a Sikh Temple in a Milwaukee suburb that left seven people dead, including the gunman.

CNN is identifying the shooter as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page, according to their law enforcement sources.

According to Tom Ahern, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the gunman had a military background. However, he would not elaborate on the extent of his military service or reports that he had a 9/11 tattoo on one of his arms, according to CNN.

The FBI and police searched a duplex near Cudahy, WI after the shooting on Sunday.

At a 4:15 p.m. CT news conference, Police Chief John Edwards credited the work of two of his officers who had been the first to respond to the scene.

"Because of the heroic actions of our officers, it stopped this from being worse than it could have been," Edwards said.

Police arrived on the scene after a 911 call at 10:25 a.m. CT. Edwards said one of the officers was ambushed by the suspect outside the temple as he tended to a victim.

He was shot multiple times, but the second officer fired back at the suspect, fatally wounding him. The injured officer is in critical condition but is expected to survive.

Edwards did not release names or any other information on the victims involved. He classified the matter as a domestic terror incident, and the FBI will be taking over as the lead investigative body.

According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the man authorities believe was the lone shooter is described as a white man around 40 years old who was bald or balding with a heavy build in a short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt.

Kanwarpdeep Singh Kaleka, who was working as an interpreter for the police and is a member of the temple, said that the witnesses he spoke with said the shooter had a 9/11 tattoo on one of his arms.

Kaleka also told CNN that the shooter seemed to be targeting men wearing turbans.

"Everyone of all faiths are allowed in the temple," Kaleka said. "It's unfortunate that someone took advantage of this."

Speaking on CNN, Rajwant Singh, the chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said that since 9/11, many people who are not familiar with the Sikh religion mistake those who follow the faith with followers of the Taliban or of Osama bin Laden.

Another police spokesman answered the rumors of multiple gunmen responsible for the shooting. Greenfield, WI, Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said they believed it had been the work of the lone suspect.

"It's believed the reports of multiple shooters were likely reports of the same shooter from different perspectives, which is very common in an active shooter incident," Wentlandt said.

The crime scene has been blocked off until it can be cleared by law enforcement. Edwards said three other people had been injured - including the officer - in addition to the seven dead.

Police had continued to sweep the area as far out as a mile away, according to CNN. Wentlandt said during the news conference that tactical teams at the temple were standing down. They hope to clear the scene by the end of Monday.

Multiple SWAT teams searched inside the 17,000-square foot facility - called a Guwara which means "doorway to God" - for any other suspects. As many as 50 people were inside when the violence began, and police conducted interviews with people who were there.

"The sense over there was when [my mother] started hiding in the closet, she didn't know how many people were out there," Kaleka told WISN outside the temple. "She kept saying, 'They're out there. They're out there. They're out there,' and she kept hanging up the phone every time she would hear something go off."

The Journal Sentinel reported Satwant Kaleka, the temple president, was among the injured after being shot in the back; he was taken to a hospital in St. Francis, WI.

CNN also reports that a priest was one of those killed in the temple.

Wentlandt said the injured officer was a 20-year veteran and an accomplished tactical officer.

In Wentlandt's initial statement, he said it was unknown if there were any more potential shooters, but they believed the situation had been contained. Authorities found four people dead inside the temple and three others outside, one being the suspect.

Police began removing injured people from inside the temple's prayer room around noon.

Lee Biblo, chief medical officer at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, WI, said they had received three adult male patients, and all three were in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, CNN reported.

One of the victims was shot in face and extremities, another to his neck, and the third was shot in the abdomen and chest. 

Biblo also said that other hospitals are treating those who are not as seriously wounded.

Members of the congregation were preparing for an 11:30 a.m. worship service when the shooting happened, according to CNN. Kaleka said that the shooter starting firing in the parking lot, went into the kitchen, then into their prayer room.

Oak Creek Patch reported up to 20 people may have been shot, based on unconfirmed scanner reports.  

The Journal Sentinel stated about 3,000 Sikh families live in southeastern Wisconsin.

Sikhism is a 500-year-old religion with more than 20 million adherents worldwide, according to sikhs.org. The founder of the religion was Guru Nunak, who was born in Punjab, India, in 1469.

Nunak was influenced by the Hindu and Muslim religions, and Sikhism contains influences from both religions, but is not an amalgamation of the two. Adherents do not cut their hair, follow dietary laws, believe in equality for men and women, hard work, and believe in one god.

Singh said that both men and women in the faith wear some form of headdress.

The religion teaches tolerance and nonviolence. The word "sikh" means disciple in the Punjabi language.

"We pray for all. It's very unfortunately this happened in our house of worship," Sing said. "Just like in Colorado, or Virginia Tech, every American suffers through this pain, we are praying for all well-being of Americans."

The Oak Creek incident is the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than three weeks. On July 20, someone opened fire in an Aurora, CO, movie theater, killing 12 and injuring 58 more. 

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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