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Sikh temple holds 1st Sunday service since attack

By Dinesh Ramde

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 12 2012 10:25 a.m. MDT

Peggy Renner-Howell lays flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wis., where a gunman killed six people this past Sunday. A public memorial service is set for Friday for all six victims. The gunman Wade Michael Page died in an exchange of gunfire with police at the scene of the shootings.

M. Spencer Green, Associated Press

OAK CREEK, Wis. — More than 100 people gathered in suburban Milwaukee for the first Sunday prayer service at a Sikh temple since a white supremacist shot and killed six people there before fatally shooting himself.

Women sang hymns as a group lowered a flag pole outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. A group of about 50 men and boys unwrapped the orange cloth covering the pole, washed the pole with water and milk and then rewrapped it with a fresh cloth. The group then planned to go inside the temple for more prayers and hymns.

Army veteran Wade Michael Page used a 9 mm pistol Aug. 5 to kill five men, one woman and wound three other people, including a police officer, in an ambush on the temple that took place shortly before a service was to begin. He took his own life after exchanging gunfire with officers, including one he shot nine times.

Page was a 40-year-old Army veteran with a record of minor alcohol-related crimes and spotty employment history. He had performed with several so-called hate rock bands associated with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups.

Although investigators have interviewed more than 100 people, combed through Page's email and recovered hundreds of pieces of evidence from his home and the temple, they say they may never know for certain what prompted the attack on the temple.

Members began returning Thursday, after the FBI completed its onsite investigation. They replaced carpets and repaired walls damaged by gunfire. A dime-sized, waist-high bullet hole in a door jamb near the main prayer room was left unrepaired as a memorial to those killed. They included three priests and the temple president, president Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, who was shot as he tried to fend off Page with a small knife.

Hundreds more visitors showed up Friday after a memorial service at a nearby high school. They brought flowers and offered their support.

Online:

Sikh Temple of Wisconsin: http://www.sikhtempleofwisconsin.com

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