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Dozens honor Sikh shooting victims during Middleton service

Sikhs called for increased understanding and an end to gun violence

MIDDLETON, Wis. - August 5 marks the one-year anniversary of a gunman shattering a quiet morning of Sunday prayer.

The shooter opened fire on worshippers at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple outside of Milwaukee.

When it was all over, six people were killed and several others hurt.

The gunman eventually turned his weapon on himself.

A somber atmosphere hung over the temple on Sunday as services were held to honor those killed in the shooting.

Governor Scott Walker addressed the crowd, as did the temple's president.

"This was a place where anybody could come at any time," said temple president Kulwant Dhaliwal. "Now, we are very vigilant of our surroundings. We have installed security cameras for the safety of the congregation."

"The bright spot in all this is yet again you've shown this community, this state, this country, and the world that love can triumph," remarked the governor.

Brian Murphy, the first officer on the scene and a survivor of 12 gunshots, also spoke at the service.

Murphy retired from the Oak Creek police force earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Madison-area Sikhs, still shaken by last summer's mass shooting, said the public's understanding of their religion has improved but that gun violence remains a problem.

Dozens of people, including members of Christian and Jewish faiths, joined the Sikhs for a memorial service at the Middleton temple. The service honored the six people killed in the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, near Mikwaukee.

Dozens honor Sikh shooting victims during Middleton service

"This tragedy brought the people together," said Gursharan Singh, a temple member from Verona. "We are not mad at anybody, we are peaceful people, and we just want that something good comes out of that."

The service ended with lunch and a two-mile walk to St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church on University Avenue.

The relatively small Sikh religion was thrust into the national spotlight after last summer's shooting, when Wade Michael Page attacked worshippers on a Sunday morning.

Members of the community said the Sikh faith is rooted in love and peace, which is more important than the turbans they wear.

"The value of the person doesn't lie in the turban or the scarf. People misunderstand," said one man. "The practical value is inside (the head)."

Sikhs called for an end to gun violence and better awareness for mental health problems, with non-Sikhs lamenting that little has changed despite additional mass shootings over the past year.

Members of the community said, while it was a sad day of remembrance for Sikhs, they would not stop practicing their religion.

"Such cowardly acts of violence will never intimidate us, but will strengthen our will to follow our beliefs," said one man. "We will always practice our religion peacefully and fearlessly."

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