At least seven people were killed in a shooting at a Sikh Gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin late Sunday morning. The gunman, operating on his own, was shot dead by the police.
Four of the killed were inside the gurudwara, and the remaining three, including the suspected gunman were shot outside. The police were unable to comment on the motive.
Three persons were injured, including a police personnel. The hospital where they were being treated described their condition critical. They had to be operated upon.
"We are treating it as a case of domestic terrorism (perpetrated not by a foreigner)," Oak Creek police chief John Edwards. The FBI will be leading the investigation.
The police refused to say anything about the suspect, his identity or his motive. Not even what he was wearing. They said there would be no comments on the criminal investigation.
This shooting comes close on the heels of the Colorado massacre in which a masked gunman had opened fire on people watching the new Batman movie, killing 12 people.
Though the police were not clear about the motive of the gunman, the Sikh community has been at the receiving end of what has been called hate crimes specially after 9/11.
One of the first persons killed in the aftermath of 9/11 was a Sikh man mistaken for a member of a minority community because of his beard and his turban.
"This is not the first time that our community has been forced to deal with assaults and murderous attacks, particularly since 9/11," said Amar Shergill, spokesperson for the American Sikh Political Action Committee.
Two Sikh men were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Elk Grove, California in March 2011 on their morning walk. No one has been arrested yet.
Multiple government agencies -- local, state and federal -- were involved in the Oak Creek investigation. Swat teams were searching the premises for additional gunmen.
"The Embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C.," said the Indian embassy.
The consulate general in Chicago is in touch with local authorities. An official has been deputed to visit the site to ascertain the situation on-the-spot.
"At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded," said President Obama, adding, "As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."
The President was notified of the Wisconsin shooting shortly before 1 pm by his Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan. The President continues to receive updates on the incident, a White House official said.
"Our hearts bleed for precious & innocent lives lost in Oak Creek," said Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao on Twitter. "We must maintain calm."
The 17,500-square foot Oak Creek Gurudwara was completed in 2007 and it has an education area, a library and a place for children to play, according to its website.