Citing Gunman’s 9/11 Tattoo, FBI Declares Wisconsin Sikh Temple Massacre ‘Domestic Terrorism’
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is calling Sunday’s deadly shooting spree at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin an act of domestic terrorism.
The FBI cited a 9/11 tattoo on the arm of the still-unidentified gunman, who shot and killed seven people and critically wounded three more at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on Sunday morning.
A federal official who wished to remain anonymous told the Los Angeles Times that it was unclear whether or not the gunman was a member of any domestic terror or hate group and that it was too early to speculate about what his motive may have been.
“The investigation will have to continue to see and determine the motive. We don’t know much about the motive at this point.”
Despite this, there has indeed been speculation, fueled by the shooter’s 9/11 tattoo, that he confused the Sikhs– a religion originating in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan in the 1500s and claiming some 30 million global followers– with Muslims because of their beards and turbans.
Sikhs have been targeted by anti-Islamic violence in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. On September 15, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona, was shot and killed by 9/11 revenge-seeker Frank Roque, who believed his victim was an Arab.
Witnesses said that most of the people shot and killed at the Wisconsin temple were turban-wearing men.
Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF), told CNN that the shooter was a white male, around 40 years old. Temple members said he was bald and was dressed in a white t-shirt and black pants, with a 9/11 tattoo on his arm.
Temple member Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka told CNN that he believes that “implies… that there’s some level of hate crime here.”
Sunday’s attack occurred around 10:30 a.m. as temple members were reading scripture and cooking food. Kaleka said that the gunman opened fire in the parking lot and then entered the temple and continued shooting. Police said the weapon used was a 9mm pistol.
Among the three people wounded was the first Oak Creek police officer to arrive at the scene of the massacre. A second officer shot and killed the gunman.
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