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OAK CREEK, Wis. — A gunman opened fire Sunday and killed six people at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before he was killed in an exchange of gunfire with one of the first officers to respond to the chaotic scene, authorities said.

The shootings happened before 10:30 a.m., as several dozen people gathered at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin for Sunday services. Hours of uncertainty followed as police in tactical gear and carrying assault rifles surrounded the temple with armored vehicles and ambulances, and witnesses struggled with unrealized fears that multiple gunman had taken hostages inside.

“We never thought this could happen to our community,” said Devendar Nagra, 48, Mount Pleasant, whose sister escaped injury by hiding in the temple’s kitchen. Other women and children barricaded themselves in closets. “We never did anything wrong to anyone.”

The first official word from police was that they didn’t know how many victims or suspects were involved. But after an extensive search of the temple, authorities said they did not believe there was more than one shooter.

At a news conference late Sunday afternoon, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards released no information about the suspect, including his identity or a possible motive. Edwards said the FBI will lead the investigation because the shootings are being treated as an act of domestic terrorism.

Note: A Reuters reports describes the shooter as a White male, according to witness accounts.

Jatin Der Mangat, 38, of Racine, said his uncle Satwant Singh Kaleka, the temple’s president, was one of those shot, but he didn’t know the extent of Kaleka’s injuries. When he later learned of the deaths, Mangat said “it was like the heart just sat down.”

“This shouldn’t happen anywhere,” he said.


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