Sikh Temple victims remember shooting, one year ago

CREATED Aug 5, 2013

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OAK CREEK - It’s been a year since the shooting that left six members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin dead.

“It feels like it’s been about 10 years,” Amardeep Kaleka said.

Kaleka’s father was the president and founder of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek.

“My brother called me and said there are shots fired in the temple, fly over here,” he remembers. “I hit the gas pedal and I was probably going 95 down 94. The police were going faster than me, and nobody was pulling me over.”

Mayor Steve Scaffidi was just four months on the job on Aug 5, 2012.

“There was a lot of panic that day,” Scaffidi remembers. “I actually read a tweet from TMJ that said there was an officer down, and that immediately jarred me that this was a pretty significant incident.”

Relatives and survivors sat in a bowling alley parking lot across the street. Waiting, hoping, and praying that their loved ones would survive.

“I’m getting phone calls from the priest lying next to my dad,” Kaleka said. “So I’m like, ‘let me in there.’”

Kaleka would later learn his father had attacked the shooter with a butter knife. He was shot twice and later died of his injuries.

In all, six victims were killed and four others were injured. The shooter ended up being a white supremacist who had been living in Cudahy.

“This was a hate crime and it had to do with being different,” Kaleka said. “And it could have been any person.”

The city has embraced the Sikh Community, while Scaffidi, Kaleka, and others have traveled the state and the country to address hate violence and how it can be prevented. The mayor is proud of his city, and of his budding relationship with the Sikhs.

As for Kaleka, it's been a long, grueling 12 months, but that won't stop his push for peace and equality. His father wouldn’t accept anything less.