Prayer Vigils For Sikh Temple Victims To Be Held In Chicago Area

WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) — Members of the Sikh community in the Chicago area were still shaking their heads on Monday, in disbelief over Sunday’s shooting massacre at a Sikh house of worship south of Milwaukee.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports a couple of candlelight prayer vigils were scheduled for Monday night at the gurdwaras – Sikh houses of worship – in Palatine and Wheaton.

Six worshippers at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisc., were killed, and three others – including a 20-year veteran Oak Creek police officer – were wounded in a shooting at the gurdwara, before police shot and killed the gunman.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Ravi Singh, spokesman for the Illinois Sikh Community Center in Wheaton, said members of several religious denominations plan to take part in the prayer vigils on Monday in Wheaton and Palatine to honor those who were killed or wounded in Oak Creek.

“To our fellow Americans, and to everyone out there, please keep our community in your prayers. We are proud to be Americans out here,” he said. “If you could take the time to learn a little bit about Sikhism, so that we can kill some of this ignorance in our country, it’ll only make our country better.”

Singh said a fund is also being set up to help the families of the Sikhs who were killed or wounded on Sunday, as well as for the police officer who was wounded in a shootout with the alleged gunman.

The motive for the massacre remains under investigation. Police have said the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism, and family members of some of the victims have said they wonder if the gunman targeted the Sikh temple because he mistook them for Muslims.

“Granted, we’re totally different, but that doesn’t make it right either way, because we’re all human. And we should be able to respect each other’s cultures, respect each other’s religions, and live in a unified world,” said Simran Kaleka, the niece of the gurdwara’s president, Satwant Kaleka, who died in the shooting.

The Illinois Sikh Community Center in Wheaton will hold a vigil at 6:30 p.m. Monday at its gurdwara, 2131 Creekside Drive in Wheaton.

The Palatine Gurdwara Sahib will also host a candlelight vigil on Monday, at 7:30 p.m. at 1280 W. Winnetka St. in Palatine.

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