Wisconsin temple shooting victims: Putting others first
Amardeep Kaleka was not surprised his father tried to stop a gunman at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
“It’s an amazing act of heroism, but it’s also exactly who he was,” Amardeep said of Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, one of six community members killed Sunday. “There was no way in God’s green Earth that he would allow somebody to come in and do that without trying his best to stop it.”
The six killed in Sunday’s attack were identified by police as five men — Kaleka, president of the temple in Oak Creek; Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39, and Suveg Singh, 84 — and one woman, 41-year-old Paramjit Kaur.
Prakash Singh was a priest who recently immigrated to the United States with his wife and two young children, said Justice Singh Khalsa, a temple member since the 1990s.
Amardeep Kaleka told CNN Milwaukee affiliate WTMJ on Monday morning that the FBI told him his father attacked the shooter in the lobby, resulting in a “blood struggle.” A knife close to the victim’s body showed blood on it, he said.
“From what we understand, he basically fought to the very end and suffered gunshot wounds while trying to take down the gunman,” said Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka, Satwant’s nephew.
Satwant Kaleka’s wife hid in a closet with several other women, telling them to remain quiet during the horrific incident.
“My father did his best to protect the temple, but also my family and his wife and all his friends and people that were there,” Amardeep Kaleka told WTMJ. “He slowed the shooter enough so other people could get to safety.”
Suveg Singh spent every day at the temple, said his granddaughter, Sandeep Khattra.
“He is always there and he’s with the community and anybody who is willing to listen,” said Khattra. “He educated them about our religion.”
The victim’s family told CNN they will return to their temple. His son, Baljander Singh Khattra, said Suveg Singh was friendly and a “very strong person.”
President Barack Obama signed a proclamation honoring the victims, ordering that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff at federal facilities and buildings.
Vigils were planned in the area on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Navdeep Singh, a policy adviser to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says Sikhs believe in freedom of religion, community service and inclusiveness. At temples, or gurdwaras, where Sikhs hold services, everyone is welcome.
“You can come and be equal,” he says.