Relatives speak of those killed in temple shooting

By Gretchen Ehlke

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 11:10 a.m. MDT

Indian relatives of brothers Sita and Ranjit Singh who were killed in the shooting attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, look at family photos at the family home in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. The Indian born brothers were both killed in the shooting attack Sunday.

Kevin Frayer, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

MILWAUKEE — A religious leader willing to do anything for his beloved, tight-knit Sikh community. A former farmer who left his fields in rural northern India and found a new home at the temple. A joke-telling Sikh priest whose family had just arrived from India. The mother who gave everything of herself for her family and her faith. A pair of brothers who lived together a half a world away from their family to serve as temple priests.

These six were killed Sunday by a former Army soldier at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Here are their stories.

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The president of the temple died defending his gift to the next generation.

Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, managed to find a simple butter knife in the temple and tried to stab the gunman even after being shot twice near the hip or upper leg, his son said Monday.

Amardeep Singh Kaleka said FBI agents hugged him Sunday, shook his hand and said, "Your dad's a hero" for fighting to the death while protecting others.

"Whatever time he spent in that struggle gave the women time to get cover" in the kitchen, Kaleka said. One of the women was his mother, who called police using her cellphone while hiding from the gunman.

Relatives said Kaleka dedicated his life to the members of the Oak Creek temple, of which he was considered the founder. He was also one of the lead investors in the building's construction.

His nephew Jatinder Mangat said Kaleka was always willing to help out with any job.

"He doesn't care what he's wearing, what he's doing, he'll just be there for you," Mangat said. "We used to say 'It's OK, we'll have somebody else do it,' and he'd say, 'No, no, I'll do it,' even if it was a dirty job. He'll do anything."

Another nephew, Gurmit Kaleka, also spoke of his uncle's willingness to serve.

"He was a great guy who always believed in social service. He was always willing to help anyone who came his way," Kaleka said.

Paramjit Kaur finished her morning prayers, a daily ritual for the deeply spiritual mother of two, and walked into the temple's front hallway Sunday and was fatally shot.

Kaur's friends remembered the 41-year-old wife Monday as sweet, outspoken and devoted to her family and her faith. They said she was also hard-working — spending 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, in production at a medical devices firm in order to provide for her children.

"I'll miss her so much," said 42-year-old Manpreet Kaur, of Franklin, who described herself as Paramjit Kaur's closest friend. They are not related.

Manpreet Kaur said that when she gave birth to her son this year, Paramjit Kaur would visit her in the hospital after she got off work, bearing food for the new mom.

"She always knew what I needed and would bring it for me," said Kaur, who noted that Paramjit Kaur had been a recent immigrant to the United States when she herself arrived seven years ago.

Co-worker Baljit Kaur, 45, of West Allis, said Paramjit Kaur talked incessantly and was very friendly. She was also very religious, Baljit Kaur said.

"She prayed every day for an hour to an hour and a half, even when she working," Baljit Kaur said.

Suveg Singh Khattra was a constant presence at the temple. Most days, his son, a taxi driver, would drop him off there to pray.

Khattra and his wife moved to the United States eight years ago to join their son. On Sunday, the 84-year-old former farmer from northern India was shot and killed.

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