Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

Wisconsin Sikh Temple Massacre Has Deep NYC Connections

The killing of six people and wounding of three others at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin is resonating deeply here in New York, both at the city's largest Sikh temple and among the ranks of the NYPD.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly went to the Sikh Cultural Society on 118th Street early Monday afternoon to not only show solidarity with the New York Sikh community, but to also express condolences. They said that those expressions of sorrow were personal, since the chairman of the South Richmond Hill congregation lost his uncle in the Wisconsin massacre.

"He was very nice guy," Mohan Singh Khattra said of his uncle, Suveg Singh Khattra, 84, who had moved to the U.S. 12 years ago and settled in Metropolitan Milwaukee.

Mohan Singh Khattra said he was upset that a gunman had opened fire on worshipers, including his uncle, Sunday morning in Oak Creek, but that he was confident in the subsequent investigation, and with measures the city was taking here to protect SIkhs.

"[Law enforcement] can find what happened," he told PIX11 News. "We are safe here in New York. ...Law enforcement is watching."

In fact, as he spoke, a police cruiser and two assigned officers sat outside of the Sikh Cultural Center. There has been a constant watch there and at every Sikh worship house in the boroughs since the attack happened at the temple attended by Khattra's uncle on Sunday.

His tragic fate intersected with that of another man, who's being called a hero in the aftermath of the shooting, and who has strong ties to New York City.

"Brian Murphy, the lieutenant, who was shot nine times and is in critical condition," the police commissioner said at a news conference after meeting with Khattra and other leaders of the Sikh community, "is the brother of Terry Murphy, who just retired from the intelligence division in New York City a month ago."

Lt. Murphy was shot by temple attacker Wade Michael Page as Murphy responded to the shooting scene. His colleagues in the Oak Creek Police Department say that even though he was badly injured, Murphy waved his fellow officers on to respond to the shooter and to save other lives in the temple. Murphy is expected to survive and to recover.

Mayor Bloomberg, meanwhile, was incensed by what had happened in Wisconsin, saying that it is yet another high profile example of why the U.S. needs tighter gun control laws.

"The Second Amendment gives you rights," Mayor Bloomberg said Tuesday before meeting with Sikh leaders, adding that it's possible for people to abuse their rights by taking them too far. He said the Wisconsin killings, as well as last month's mass killing in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, showed that some Second Amendment rights are taken too far and must be more strictly regulated.

"This is a national problem," Bloomberg said passionately, "And we are the only developed country with this problem."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun