Wisconsin gurdwara victim remains in coma | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Wisconsin gurdwara victim remains in coma

chandigarh Updated: Aug 31, 2012 14:06 IST
Sikh priest Punjab Singh

Sikh priest Punjab Singh has remained in coma ever since the shooting rampage took place at a Wisconsin gurdwara earlier this month that left six victims dead and three other people wounded, his family said.

In their first public comments since the August 5 attack, Singh's sons described how they rushed from India to be with their father after the shooting, and how they now spend most of their waking hours at his hospital bedside where he recovers from a gunshot to the head.

"It's hard, but we are just trusting in God now," said his older son, Raghuvinder Singh.

Punjab Singh has been in critical condition ever since he was hospitalized. His condition hasn't changed in nearly four weeks, and he requires mechanical support to breathe.

Singh was injured when a gunman with ties to a white supremacy group opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

The motive of the gunman, who killed himself, is unknown.

Singh was in a bedroom at the temple that morning. When he heard gunfire he tried to barricade himself in the room, but the gunman apparently forced the door open far enough to reach his handgun inside and shoot Singh in the face as he hid behind the door.

The single gunshot wound caused facial fractures and damage to a major neck artery.

Raghuvinder Singh, 44, his mother and 29-year-old brother, Jaspreet Singh, heard about the shooting from their homes in India and rushed to be by Punjab Singh's side. They arrived in the US on August 11, Punjab Singh's 65th birthday.

The soft-spoken brothers smiled as they shared stories of their father, a man they described as deeply religious and impassioned about educating and clothing poor children in India.

"He would always send us to buy books, uniforms and shoes for poor children," Raghuvinder Singh said. "Any money he made from preaching, he would spend on donations. He wasn't interested in a bigger house for himself or a new car. He just wanted to help poor people."

After he retired from the Indian army Punjab Singh began preaching in India, and also accepted speaking invitations from Sikh leaders in California, New York and New Jersey.

"He was able to relate to people well," family friend Mandeep Kaur said, explaining why his services were in such demand. "He was able to preach at a level normal people could understand."

Raghuvinder Singh declined to discuss his father's current condition or prognosis, saying he would allow hospital officials to release that information at the appropriate time.

A hospital spokeswoman said she couldn't immediately comment, citing confidentiality laws.