Funerals held for Wisconsin temple shooting victims
- 10 August 2012
- From the section US & Canada
Thousands of people, including mourners from abroad, have turned out for the funerals of six victims of a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the service, held at a high school, and said the shooting was an attack "on the values of America itself".
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also addressed the mourners.
A US Army veteran with ties to white-power groups opened fire as worshippers prepared for a service last Sunday.
Three others who were critically wounded in the attack are still being treated in hospital.
Bullet hole memorial
In his speech, Mr Holder said the justice department would honour the victims by continuing their work to prevent violence and discrimination, as well as pushing forward with the investigation of the shooting.
"Sunday's attack was not just an affront to the values of Sikhism," Mr Holder said. "It was an attack on the values of America itself."
But he added that violence against Sikhs had become too common. "That is wrong, it is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated," the US attorney general told mourners.
Governor Walker also attended the memorial, and told the grievers they were not alone.
Wearing an orange head scarf, he said: "Today, we mourn with you, we pray with you and we support you.
"As Americans, we are one, and when you attack one of us, you attack all of us."
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, 3,000 people attended the service.
Flowers were laid around the open caskets of the six victims and a large video screen displayed pictures of those killed and injured in the shooting.
The funeral service included hymns and prayers sung in Punjabi.
Afterwards, mourners were due to return to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, the scene of the attack in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek.
Police have finished their work at the crime scene, and allowed Sikh leaders back into the temple on Thursday.
Workers have repaired gunshot damage and shampooed blood-stained carpets, but a bullet hole in a doorway leading to the main prayer hall has been left intact as a memorial.
Priests were to begin a process known as Akhand Path - a reading of the entire Sikh holy book - a tradition to honour the dead. It is expected to take about 48 hours.
"We want to pay homage to the spirits who are still in there," said Harpreet Singh, the nephew of one of the victims.
The victims were five men and a woman, ranging in age from 39 to 84. Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the temple, was among the victims.
Witnesses say he tried to fend off the gunman with a butter knife.
His son, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, told mourners his father had been selfless, often telling him that "you make a living by what you make, but you make a life by what you give".
Two other temple members and a police officer were wounded in last Sunday's attack. Police Lt Brian Murphy's condition was upgraded to satisfactory on Thursday.
The gunman, Wade Michael Page, 40, was killed during the attack. A police officer shot him in the stomach before Page fatally shot himself in the head, according to the FBI.
Police investigators say they are still trying to establish a motive for the killing spree.