Suspect identified in Sikh temple shooting | News | DW | 06.08.2012
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Suspect identified in Sikh temple shooting

US officials have identified a former soldier as the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in the US state of Wisconsin on Sunday. The shooting has provoked protests in India.

United States investigators have identified the dead gunman as Wade Michael P., 40, a former US serviceman said to have worked as a "psychological operations specialist" in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The suspect shot dead six people and seriously wounded three, including a policeman, at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday. Police shot the gunman dead.

Police said they were investigating the shootings in the city of Oak Creek as a "domestic terrorism type incident" and have not spoken on possible motives for the shooting.

However, a group that monitors extremists said P. had links to racist groups and had been a member of a racist skinhead band. It said he had also tried to buy goods from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, in 2000.

"That's all we know about Wade. We are still digging through our files," said Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.

People gather at a candle light vigil in downtown Milwaukee following the shooting

Wisconsin residents held a candle-lit vigil

The attack came just over two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a screening of a new Batman movie. It is likely to fuel further debate on US gun laws and put added pressure on US President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney to address the issue beofre the November 6 presidential election.

The north-central state of Wisconsin has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. Police say the gun used in the shooting - a 9mm semi-automatic pistol - was purchased legally.

Indian protests

Sunday's attack has been condemned by India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh.

"That this senseless act of violence should be targeted at a place of religious worship is particularly painful," he said in a statement.

The Indian foreign minister, S.M. Krishna, criticized the United States gun culture.

"The US government will have to take a comprehensive look at this kind of tendency which certainly is not going to bring credit to the United States of America," he said.

In the northern city of Jammu, dozens of Sikhs protested the shooting, carrying banners reading "Ban open sale of weapons in USA" and "Shame Shame Shame." There were protests in various other Indian cities as well.

Watch video 01:53

Deadly shooting in Sikh temple

The US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, visited New Delhi's largest Sikh temple to show solidarity with the Sikh community. The vast majority of Sikhs live in India.

Sikhs in America say that have often been singled out for harassment and even violent attacks since 9/11, because their traditional turbans and beards gave them a Middle Eastern appearance.

There are reportedly between 500,000 and 700,000 Sikhs now living in the US. Local Sikhs say the community in Wisconsin only consists of some 2,500 to 3,000 familes.

The Sikh faith is the fifth-largest in the world, with more than 30 million followers.

tj/ng (Reuters, AFP, AP)

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle is bound by German law and the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

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