NBC 4 New York
Police have increased security around New York City temples after the Sikh temple massacre in Wisconsin. Roseanne Colletti reports.
Sikh leaders said they feel safe thanks to a stepped-up NYPD presence around temples in New York City following the Sunday morning shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left seven dead.
The increased police presence is a precaution, city officials said.
"Since the incident happened yesterday, the NYPD came right over here and go over to all our other temples and we feel safe, we feel the confidence in our NYPD," said Gurdev Singh Kang, president of the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill, Queens. "I appeal to our whole Sikh community, be peaceful."
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly attended a prayer service inside the Richmond Hill temple Monday afternoon. They later spoke to the press, and Bloomberg decried what he called the "deafening silence" of the presidential candidates on the issue of gun control.
"Neither of [their] statements had to do with stopping the next massacre," Bloomberg said. "During the next presidential term, 48,000 Americans are going to be murdered... and so far we haven't heard from either candidate a plan, a concrete plan that makes some sense, to get the problem solved."
Bloomberg said the NYPD was taking precautionary steps -- "some visible and some not" -- to keep the Sikh community safe.
"When we received information of the shootings yesterday we immediately dispatched additional resources to Sikh temples here in New York," Kelly said Monday. "I can assure you that we're going to continue to monitor this issue, we're going to keep our presence at these locations in place and we're going to make that determination on a daily basis."
About 15,000 Sikhs live in the Richmond Hill area, Bloomberg said.
"This is a very close-knit and hardworking community; one whose faith urges them to practice self discipline and good deeds towards others," Bloomberg said.
Mohan Singh Khatra, the nephew of a man who was killed in Wisconsin, said Monday that while he was not angry, he was sad "because I can never see him again."
"We feel very sad about the police officer too, because he did a great job -- otherwise we don't know how many people are going to be [killed] in there," he said. "He did a good job. We really appreciate the police officer."
The officer who was shot in Wisconsin, Brian Murphy, is the brother of an NYPD detective who recently retired, Kelly said.
Meanwhile, police and members of the Sikh community are trying to determine why a gunman opened fire in the suburban Milwaukee temple, killing two people outside, four people inside and critically wounding another three individuals in what authorities are calling an act of domestic terrorism.
The shooter was found dead outside the building, bringing the total fatality count to seven, Greenfield Police Chief Brad Wentlandt said.
Wentlandt confirmed that one of the wounded was the first officer on the scene, who was shot several times. The officer engaged with the gunman and the shooter, later identified as Wade Michael Page, 41, was "put down," Wentlandt said.
Authorities say Page purchased the pistol he used in the shooting within the past 10 days. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic hate groups, says Page is the former leader of a NeoNazi group called End Apathy.
In New York City, the NYPD said police would be deploying critical response vehicles as a precaution in addition to stepping up patrols at Sikh temples.
Sikhs in New York said they were grateful for the added security during this trying time for their community.
"That was miles and miles away," Gursharan Bharth said outside a temple in Flushing. "For a cop to come here and check on us to make sure we're OK, just kind of shows me that we live in New York and New York is a place where, yes, people rub shoulders and don't get along all the time, but we stand together still."
They also mourned privately, gathering Sunday evening to try to make sense of the horror.
"You cannot imagine... how we suffer," Kang said.
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