About 300 Sikh youth and their family members from across the United States and Canada had just wrapped up a long weekend in Baltimore when the news broke that a gunman had killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday.
This weekend was the Sikh Youth Alliance of North America's 2012 International Sikh Youth Symposium -- hosted at the Sikh Alliance of Baltimore in Randallstown -- where youth aged 6 to 22 were broken up into five age groups to study their shared history, culture and philosophy, said Kuldeep Singh, the alliance's chairman.
The youths then gave speeches about what they'd learned, an exercise that "teaches them how to express themselves" in the proper way, Singh said.
The three-day symposium went well, Singh said, and had just concluded when leaders began hearing about the shootings in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a man killed six people before being fatally shot himself by police.
"It is indeed terrible news that came," Singh said. "We are very saddened by the incident. It was a tragedy."
Singh said his organization is stressing that its members remain calm, and that those in Wisconsin work with law enforcement officials as the motive behind the attack is investigated.