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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Shooting at Wisconsin Sikh Temple; Seven Dead, Including Gunman
Aired August 5, 2012 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon, along with Deborah Feyerick and Rob Marciano. Deb is in New York, Rob and I are here in Atlanta. We're covering this breaking news that's happening in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. It happened earlier this morning about 10:25 local time, which is Central Time.
The very information -- latest information that we know, seven people are dead at this point; three of them we are told outside of that temple. That was just told to us at a press conference a short time ago by the police chief. Four inside the temple. That 911 call, as we said, came in 10:25 a.m. local time. Of course this suburb that we are talking about, Milwaukee, suburb of Milwaukee, it is called Oak Creek.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN: The caller said at the time that one gunman had entered the temple and started shooting. Multiple people at that point were shot. People were trained inside. We presume that they are still trapped inside. Many of them may very well be children, women and children gathering before a larger gathering later on in the morning.
A short time ago, the police gave us a few updates, telling us that shooter -- that police officer, as Don mentioned, engaged with the gunman that was outside. That police officer was shot several times. He's currently being treated at a local hospital, but he managed to get off enough shots to that gunman and kill him, or at least put him down. That gunman is presumed dead outside the temple.
At this point, what we still don't know is if there is another shooter inside that temple. And police tactical teams are inside trying to make sweeps and contain this situation. The word that the police say is that they had the situation contained. That doesn't mean that it's cleared or deemed safe.
Three people, as you mentioned, three men, being treated at local area hospitals. Don.
LEMON: We don't know anything about the shooter. There were some initial reports. Those have not been confirmed. Some people have said it is possibly terrorism. Again, we don't know that at this point. We don't know what the motivation was at this point.
As we were saying here, the gentleman was saying -- I think there was a little bit ahead talking about Muslims after 9/11. Sikhs are not Muslims. We know that. So we will find out that information. It could be a member of the congregation. It could be just someone who went on a bend. We don't know. It could be someone who had a beef with the Sikh community. We don't know that at this point. Until we know that, until we find out some information about it, that's when we will get to that point.
But as far as this point in the investigation, imagine being inside the temple and the family -- waiting for your family members outside of the temple when you know that a gunman has gone on a rampage and has started shooting people and killing people, one of them a police officer.
Again, this all happening earlier. And as we were talking here, the reason we are still continuing to cover this, because the tactical teams are still inside that building, they're still on the perimeter of the building, as you can see. This is video, it's not live pictures. And they have been doing multiple sweeps. And they say until they do a number of sweeps and they feel confident that there are no other shooters inside the building -- they don't believe that they are, but until they feel absolutely 100 percent confident they have this secure, they will not allow people into the building. And again, they're doing those tactical sweeps as we speak. But the bottom line, seven people are dead in this, and they believe one of them is the shooter, Rob.
MARCIANO: You know, Don, WISN and our other affiliates have been doing a great job informing us. Let's listen in on WISN's coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You worked the overnight shift on Saturday, then you come here to the temple and you did. That's what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you left at what time this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was around 10:00 in the morning. It was around 10:00.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So maybe it was just before 10:00.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Just before 10:00, because this incident happened right when we reach home, from my temple to my home it's like five minutes. As soon as I reach, I received a call. Somebody told me that a shooting happened in the temple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as you got home, you realized a shooting had happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just after five minutes. I maybe -- it would have been me, it would have been him. But as you told me, the seven people have been positive, including the shooter. And this is very bad news, very terrible news for our society, for the people, who knows their relatives, their husband, their mother, like their father. This is very bad news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And give us the sense, and talking to the people here, obviously a lot of folks are gathered around. In fact, as you and I speak here, we can pan off perhaps and look at some of the people who are gathered here, awaiting word, awaiting more information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, we are already (inaudible) that we can find -- like we said, we want that the people who are already inside could be saved (ph), maybe they can be brought outside, and the police could capture the killer (inaudible). We wish that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you were also here, it sounds like, just moments before this happened. What was--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stay with him. That's the same thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, like him, you left right before this happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same thing. Same time. yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were together. We were just together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a sense for what -- were you going to -- did you have any intention of coming back here or were you done for the day here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our routine, what we always do on Sunday morning, on Sunday every Indian go to temple for pray. You know, like regular pray. Like regular (inaudible) Sunday morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you had just been here perhaps five minutes later, you may have been--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm simply -- like I'm -- this is very depressing news there. I'm sorry for that (inaudible), but maybe it could have happened to me or him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An absolutely horrific scene out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. And thank you, sir, as well.
Let's pan off if we can again, just to kind of show you what's been taking place throughout the day here. This is the staging area several blocks from the temple itself. And this is where in addition to the reporters family members have been gathering throughout the day. It's also where people who would have ordinarily been coming here for prayer services that run --
LEMON: Okay, now to our affiliate WITI there, talking to someone who has a relative inside of the temple.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- service would be happening. What would he be doing at that point?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have like, you know, singing prayers going on, so he's in the part of those, you know, that goes on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you were saying family at the hospital right now awaiting word on your uncle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are on the way. They are on the way. I don't know if they were already there. They were on the way the last I heard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And were you told at that same moment of the seven people killed, were you informed at that moment, and what was the scene out here? Because I was focused on the press conference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scene was people just -- people just saying, until now, it was kind of sigh of relief. Nobody know how many people deceased, so everybody was thinking there are people still hurt. When that news came out, it was like my heart sank down, you know? It's bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the heart's still sinking down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, still, everybody's kind of shook up. They can't see (inaudible). Usually the ladies have the kids, the kids are just staying calm, you know, they don't know what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And of those seven, you said you only know this one person killed. Do you know of any ages of the other people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's -- you know, same information you got. Same information we have. You know? Right now we don't know other names who, if there are any ladies or how many guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, Satindra (ph). As you're hearing, agonizing time for that family right now, still awaiting word on the condition of his uncle. He was the man who gave us all of this information in the beginning. One of the first people out here who actually made a call inside of that temple, who spoke with a head priest in there, who gave us information about people being shot, others lying on the ground, others hiding.
MARCIANO: WITI, we're being told right now that President Obama has been notified of the situation. I would imagine we'd get some sort of comment from the White House at some point, but the situation remains this -- that tactical forces from the police department are inside this facility, a 17,000-foot temple south of Milwaukee, by about nine miles. A Sikh temple in the community of Oak Creek, where a gunman opened fire earlier today. Seven confirmed dead, one of those is the gunman who lays outside. And right now police are doing a complete sweep inside. Obviously tending to some of the victims as well that remain inside by trying to sweep that building to make sure that there isn't a second gunman. They have the situation contained at least, having it inside that, but they want to make sure that they can clear that building such that medical personnel can then get into that temple and attend to the survivors of this horrific event.
LEMON: Just to tell you how it went down, 10:25 Central Time, they said that the police department received multiple calls that there was a shooting inside of this temple. It was in Oak Creek there. And they said just about 20 minutes -- just a few minutes later, a 20-year veteran of the police department was on scene at this temple. They said that that veteran officer exchanged gunfire with the shooter, and they said that gunman was taken down, they believe, when he exchanged gunfire, but the gunman also did shoot the officer multiple times. That officer now is in critical condition at a hospital.
We know -- we don't know which of the victims among the three the officer is because according to the hospital, three people were at the hospital, multiple gunshot wounds to the face, to the abdomen, and also some to the extremities of their bodies, and we don't know which of the three he was talking about. Because some had gunshot wounds to the abdomen, some had them to the head, some had to the extremities, and at least one had wounds in both places, the extremities and also to the head as well.
So what we do know at this point, as they are making these tactical sweeps, as Rob Marciano said, that seven people are dead, one of them believed to be the shooter at this temple. We're going to continue to follow this. I'm Don Lemon. Rob Marciano is here. Deb Feyerick following in New York. Details on the other side of this very quick break.
MARCIANO: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage of the temple shooting just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Rob Marciano here, Don Lemon alongisde as well, Deb Feyerick in New York. And we're just trying to get more information as it comes along. It's an active scene there, Don, where police tactical forces are inside this facility, that's a Sikh temple with a rather large congregation of upwards of 500 people. This morning, women and children were gathering for kind of a pre-show, so to speak, before they had this big congregation meal later on in the day. The shooting itself took place roughly around 10:15 or 10:20 local time.
LEMON: I think it is important to point out, you said earlier you've been reporting on this, and we've also heard it from people who were witnesses, at least family members, I should say, who have been on air, and on our affiliate's air that women and children were going to this meal first, this celebration. And most of them had arrived. As many as 300 to 400 people can show up for this. All of them had not arrived yet.
We should also tell that you that in the area, another temple that's close, they are taking precautions, they are beefing up security and police presence there in the aftermath. Just reading the notes here as we're coming back on the air. They are doing this just as a precaution.
Again, and I am very emphatic about this -- we had someone on talking about what it could be, and it may very well be that, but we don't know yet. Police say specifically no word of a motive at this point. And until -- unless and until we know a motive or we hear from someone who was on the scene or directly involved in this investigation, we cannot speculate about anything, about terrorism, about whatever problem this gunman may have had with the Sikh community, if at all. It could just be a deranged person. We don't know until this plays out.
Also, initially, it didn't look very much -- you see here, you're not seeing very much of an active scene. That's because initially police were asking people on the scene who were inside of this temple to be careful about information that they were releasing to their loved ones, very -- and to people on the outside, because it was an active hostage negotiation at that point that they believe.
They were asking the media to be careful about showing overhead live video or taking live feeds of this particular scene, because they didn't know who may have witnessed an active shooting and who wants to see that live on television, and also they were trying to get people out of that temple.
We saw women and children being escorted out in an armored vehicle. Again, this officer who confronted the gunman right after the 911 call, a 20-year veteran of the police department, outside of this temple.
OK. Thank you. Getting information from my producer there. He said the gunman exchanged fire with the officer, and the gunman was taken down. They believe the gunman is dead, they said they believe, in a press conference. And then they said that the officer was taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. We know from that hospital that three people are there in critical condition. All three people of them people are in critical condition, and they described the injuries as head wounds, multiple gunshot wounds to the face and to the head, also to the extremities of the body, and gunshot wounds to the abdomen. Three adults taken to the hospital.
And the information that I'm just getting from my producer is from the Indian embassy. And here is what the Indian embassy is telling CNN -- our Sean Nottingham (ph) here, who is on our wires desk, "We have seen reports on the tragic incident earlier today of firing at a group of worshipers at a Gurdwara in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C. Our consulate general in Chicago, too, has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation. An official has been deputed to visit the site to ascertain the situation on the spot, and as we know we are being told as well the president of the United States has been notified of the situation in Wisconsin as well."
MARCIANO: You know, Don, it is such a large congregation. They built this in the '90s. And as it grew, people of this faith would actually move to Oak Creek solely based on this temple. So it's grown since then. And with a large congregation, obviously a large temple, which the police forces right now are trying to sweep and clear. That has not been done yet, and there are still not only tactical teams in there, but also the victims that they have to tend to.
LEMON: As you said, as we've been talking, you're talking about this particular temple, it's Hindu Sikh. And the gentleman who was on earlier speaking to us from the Council on Religion and Education, the chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, saying after 9/11, that the Sikh faith has often been confused with Muslims and terrorism. And we know that. We're very aware of that. But again, as we said, we don't want to speculate on any of that now until we find out exactly what's going on. We don't even know who the gunman is. Deb Feyerick in New York. Deb, what can you tell us at this point?
FEYERICK: Well, Don and Rob, the police chief has described the situation as very fluid. They don't know the actual victim count. They don't even know how many suspects, how many gunmen may have been involved in this. They do know that calls came in, 911 calls came in, about 10:20, and an officer responding to the scene actually encountered the gunman, and in their words, put him down. He is one of three people who was shot outside of that Sikh temple. Four people were also shot inside that temple and killed. These are four people shot and killed inside, three people shot and killed outside, including the gunman.
Tactical units inside the building right now going through the building, attending victims as they sort of move forward, as they do their sweep. And we've got Chris Voss, who is on the phone. He's an FBI negotiator -- former hostage negotiator. Chris, we're told multiple units are there, multiple SWAT teams from different sheriffs departments and police departments. What is going on inside that building? How are they conducting this sweep, especially since they don't know if there's another gunman in there?
CHRISTOPHER VOSS, FORMER FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Well, if they've got multiple SWAT teams at the scene, they probably would have divided up the external duties. There is a pretty good chance that one team is probably providing security on the inner perimeter, and that they have -- they can really only have one team from one agency inside, because they're going to be in the same frequency and they'll have trained together the most.
The real challenge for them as they go through this is a combination of a couple other things. First, if there is a second gunman or other gunmen that are hiding inside, there are so many places they can hide. Interestingly enough, they can hide in the ceiling. So as they're clearing rooms, they have to be conscious of looking up as well as looking down and all around. And when you're focused straight ahead, remembering to look straight up and check the ceiling panels for somebody hiding makes it a very slow and deliberate process.
The other thing that is going to be a challenge for them if there are additional gunmen, it's not unheard of for gunmen to hide among the victims and try to pretend to be a victim themselves. So they're going to be coming across people that are very traumatized. There is a distinct possibility that they're going to come across more wounded, and in this chaos there may be a gunman hiding with the victims. So they can't make any assumptions about anyone they encounter, as to whether or not they're a victim or a potential additional gunman. And so thy take them into custody, they search them, they check them for wounds, and then they pass them on to the people on the inner perimeter so they can identify them so they don't accidentally let a potential additional gunman go away because they've been mistaken as victims. FEYERICK: And you know, and Chris, there's got to be so much going on inside. You had women and children and men, they were preparing for a service at 11:30. When we think about the condition of the people inside, they've got to be terrified. How do the SWAT teams deal with them as well?
VOSS: They are terrified. And many SWAT teams have taken the time to get actual first responder negotiation training, because this is a time when the power of their voices is as powerful as any other possible weapon that they may use. And they need to speak to these people in a very firm and calming voice, and they need to -- the people to comply with the instructions that they're given, which can be very difficult with someone who's terrified and has been -- felt like they've been running for their life or they're hiding for their life.
So well trained SWAT teams generally have some sort of hostage negotiation training in addition to their tactical training, so they can deal with people face to face in exactly this type of a situation.
FEYERICK: And clearly the timeline in this is going to be very interesting also to be investigated. Four people shot and killed inside, and then three people shot and killed outside, including the gunman. So again, if there was somebody inside, that would change certainly the dynamic of what would be happening. Correct?
VOSS: Yes. And that's one of the things they're dealing with now, because it sounds like they have evidence of shootings in multiple locations. And until they've completely cleared the scene, they don't know for sure, that, because of that, that there weren't multiple shooters. So they have to proceed very deliberately, and they're being very careful about what they say about the situation, because it still is a possibility.
FEYERICK: OK, and Don Lemon, also our anchor in Atlanta, joining in for a question. Don.
LEMON: Hey, Mr. Voss, I think it is important to point out and talk about this. As we're reading the accounts, as the accounts are coming in, we are hearing that witnesses keep saying shooters, shooters. And the witnesses may believe that there are multiple shooters inside of this temple. The officer, the police chief who came out, says they believe it is only one person. In these sorts of situations, why does that happen? Obviously possibly there could be more than one shooter, but the officer said they don't believe it at this point.
VOSS: Well, you don't know the exact sequence of the events of the shootings. If the shooter had engaged someone outside, went inside and shot some people and then went back outside to engage the police officer that was first on the scene --
LEMON: And, Mr. Voss, I hate to cut you off -- stand by. We'll get back to you. We want to go back to our affiliate. They're speaking to someone who was inside of the temple. Let's listen in. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's no longer an issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you -- you've been on the premises, though. You've been there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I've been on the premises -- there are all the people -- the people who was inside the premises, they're in the basement. Police are interviewing all those people. So we just talked to the people who were there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it. You talked to the people who were inside directly. Police right now, it sounds like, are in the process of talking--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people. Even they saw the casualties with eyes and they saw the people laying on the ground. So we talked to those people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talked to them, people who have witnessed that.
LEMON: OK. So apparently this gentleman has been talking to people who were inside of the temple, and what he says, that the people who witnessed it are in the basement of the temple now being interviewed by police officers.
Let's get back to Christopher Voss, who is a former FBI hostage negotiator. So again, continue to talk about why the witnesses will say or saying that shooters, police are saying they believe one shooter.
VOSS: Well, the witnesses -- one single shooter could have engaged in multiple shootings in multiple locations inside the temple. So it would have been natural for different people to have seen the same person different times. Because of the trauma and the chaos, it is very difficult for the descriptions to match up, so it would be easy for them to think that there was more than one shooter, or even if a shooter who's firing so many rounds at one time. There's no trauma like having to run for your life and being shot at, and it is very easy for people to mistake one shooter as multiple shooters.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Mr. Voss. Thank you. Deb is going to stand by. Deb, and our viewers, I want to let you know, this is sad -- listening to the witnesses, they're saying the first person, Deb, to see the shooter was a 10-year-old. And that's according to a family member of one of the witnesses. As we have been reporting here, women and children were here first. They have already arrived for this large meal to take place. And the men were going to arrive a little bit later. 300 to 400 people usually show up for this service, and imagine the shock of showing up to a peaceful place of worship and then having this incident happen.
And we also want to tell you, we don't know about the gunman. The gunman believed to be dead, according to police. Seven people, four were found outside -- four were found inside, three dead were found outside. One of the dead found outside they believe is the shooter. Three people taken to local hospitals right now, in critical condition with severe wounds, multiple gunshot wounds to the face, to the abdomen, to the extremities, all of them are being treated at this point. Continuing breaking news coverage of the temple shooting moments away.
MARCIANO: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage of that shooting just south of Milwaukee. A temple where a gunman opened fire at roughly 10:15 a.m. And seven people are confirmed dead now. One of those is the shooter. Active scene with police inside going through a sweep which we heard from a FBI -- former FBI negotiator describing in detail exactly what that entails, and it's -- it may take some time.
LEMON: And we're starting to get more information now as this continue, as the day moves on now. We are starting to get more information, to get more context about exactly what happened inside of this temple as this shooting occurred. Deb Feyerick, Deb, we're getting information and we are hearing that maybe 50 people inside when the shooting started. We're told it was 10:30 local time. There may have been more people inside had it been a little bit later. The community and the temple leaders, we're told, now are heading to the hospital. They said they were asked -- these are witnesses who were on the scene. Had there been any problems at the temple recently? They say no. Again, these witness accounts are starting to come in.
FEYERICK: Right, exactly. And what you've got right now is you have a number of people who were inside the temple. They're being questioned by investigators, by authorities who were there. The tactical units. Numerous tactical units responded from various municipalities, state, federal local. And you had them coming to work together.
There was a sweep of the building, one of the police chiefs saying that they were going through, they were not only attending to victims, but they were also searching for gunmen inside the building.
They don't know how many actual victims there have been, they don't know how many gunmen there may be. So you have tactical units that are searching every nook, every corner, they are even searching the ceilings just to make sure nobody's hiding. They have sequestered a number of the folks who were in at the time this all happened, and they're questioning them, they are interviewing them to find out what they may know how this man came in. They've really got to piece everything together so they can create a timeline.
We do know that four people were shot and killed inside of that temple. Three others, excuse me, shot and killed outside of the temple, including the alleged gunman. And we are told that a police officer who was the first one to respond to that 911 call that first came in, that he engaged the shooter and presumably shot him dead. The police officer at the hospital right now in critical condition, operated on. He is in surgery. And so all of this really kind of dramatically happening. And the Sikh community, a number of them saying that they did feel that there was a vulnerability, that they didn't feel 100 percent safe, but the one place that they thought they could feel safe obviously was their temple. So right now authorities just trying to conduct this investigation, and it is going to be a very thorough investigation. Nothing right now coming out on the gunman, though earlier reports was that he was a white bald man, and not clear whether there were one or more shooters. A man with a heavy build. Sleeveless t-shirt. That's how one of the gunmen was described. Now they've got to rule out whether there was a second gunman or anybody else who may have been involved as an accomplice.
LEMON: Absolutely. And everyone we've had come on, wants to point out -- you know, people get this community confused with Muslim. They're not Muslim. He pointed out they're Hindi Sikh. The Muslim community now sending out a statement condemning the shooting at this Sikh temple.
To get back to what happened inside, what's going on, Rob and Deb, you talked about people who were gathering, the women and children, and we saw live pictures there of women who were going somewhere, either to a command center or trying to get their loved ones in the parking lot of this temple. They said they don't believe -- and these are according to witnesses who have appeared on our affiliates' air. They don't think that there are any children were shot. They said when the shooting started, some of the women were cooking lunch. Stoves were on. And you heard that reporter said something about gas. Remember? So that may have something to do with that.
Some of the women hid in the closet for about an hour. They believe everyone may be out of the temple now. One person we heard earlier saying that the people who were still inside, the witnesses, were in the basement of this temple being interviewed by police officers. Some of the leaders from the temple outside, they have just come to the command center, and I imagine after they go to the command center and they talk to officers and they get in touch with their loved ones, they will be speaking to the media.
The women and children are out, they believe. 20 to 25 women, about a half dozen children, they say. They got out about an hour ago in the basement of a bowling alley downstairs in this temple, they believe. The injured of course being taken to the hospital.
So the specifics about what happened inside that temple are starting to come out now. And as Deb said, there were reports of a gunman who was balding and what have you, but we don't know who this gunman is, what his motivation is, why this all happened. And as this plays out, we will continue to talk about that. The investigation will play out. The story will unfold and we'll figure out why -- maybe. There's never a good reason for anything like this, why this happened.
MARCIANO: And the timing of it, I suppose, if this was obviously a malice attempt to do the most damage, maybe he would have waited later. Just at the time, according to the leaders that have gathered outside the command center, about 50 people, they would guess would be inside around that time on a typical Sunday. And as Don mentioned, the women in the kitchen there cooking up lunch, and some of those now being escorted out of the building through the basement, and we're just trying to get some final tallies as to how many were injured. We know how many perished, and that would be six people within that temple -- or I should say two people outside, four people inside, and then one other outside being the actual shooter, who was gunned down by--
LEMON: Four inside, four inside.
MARCIANO: -- the police officer that was on the scene. So now we just need to see about the survivors, those that are being treated and will be treated at local area hospitals, and how they'll do and recover from here.
LEMON: And you saw the video, the overhead video from the chopper, of people who were rushing out of that temple and are glad to get out, but know that their friends and their family members and loved ones are still inside of that temple.
And, Deb, we spoke to a former hostage negotiator a little bit earlier today, just a couple of minutes ago, and we were talking about one shooter, two shooters, we don't exactly know. I'm getting e-mails from people talking about gun rights, the NRA, what have you, people talking about terrorism -- we don't know that yet.
And so what we do know is the only thing, the only information that we know for sure is what this police chief who came out about 30 minutes ago gave us. And he said he believes there are seven people dead at this point, and he thinks one of them is the shooter. And so we're not sure of the motivation, and the motivation could be with this shooter forever who is presumed dead at this point.
FEYERICK: And Don, what's so interesting as I've been looking into the whole gun debate recently, and you look at the debate going on in the country --
LEMON: It's way too early for that, right?
FEYERICK: It's way too early to say that, but the one thing is this -- and just to stress it. It is not just guns. But if somebody wants to go and do something crazy or hateful or hurtful, they're going to do it, and they're going to do it whether they own a legal gun or they are going to do it whether they own an illegal gun. So it's not just about sort of the gun debate in the country, but it is also about the state of mental health in the country as well.
But think about this community, Don. This was a temple that started back in 1997 with just 20, 25 families. It grew to such an extent that they were able to build this big facility, 17,000 square feet, with upwards of 400 people who were attending. And you think about the joy and the sense of belonging and place and coming to a community on a Sunday morning, preparing a meal, having festivities so that you could join in celebration with members of your community. And for this to happen, to really be gunned down in a place that's supposed to be safe, a place that's supposed to be where you belong, it's really -- it's shocking as to why this particular community was targeted. And the time that they were targeted as well.
MARCIANO: So terribly sad and on the heels of that Aurora massacre--
LEMON: Two weeks ago, yes.
MARCIANO: Just two weeks ago. So another senseless act where innocent people are losing their lives, and innocent women and children in a terrifying situation right now.
LEMON: Yes. And when we have situations like this, especially when it involves something that -- when it involves a place of worship, when it involves a particular religious group, we had someone Rajwat Singh (ph) who was on a little bit earlier, and he started talking about this particular religious group and talking about Muslims. Of course we know this group is not Muslim. But it can get muddled in the situation when these details are coming out, which is one reason I wanted to talk to him -- he couldn't hear me -- to clarify that. So he could not hear me so we let him go on the phone. But we don't want to get bogged down in murky details and speculation about something that we have no -- that has no basis in fact right now. We don't know if this has anything to do with terrorism. It very well could. It very well could, but at this point we don't know.
MARCIANO: Well, he was expressing the fear that that community has felt for the past ten or so years since 9/11. That's certainly valid. But the motive for this and the cause and what this deranged man -- what was going through his mind at the point it happened is unbeknownst to us.
LEMON: And Sikhism is not Muslim or Hindu. He did say Hindu Sikh, but Sikh is -- that's not Muslim or Hindu. And so now we're going into these murky details when we don't know what's happening in the investigation.
You're right, he was expressing a sentiment, but that sentiment I think is better expressed by the folks who are coming out of this situation and who are involved in it, and once we know if that had anything to do with it, then these people will speak about that and we can go into those details. It is appropriate to talk about it, but at this point we don't exactly know what is going on.
We do know seven people are dead, and you are looking at this video coming in from our affiliate here in Wisconsin. This temple shooting happened 10:25 Central Time this morning. According to the police, seven people are dead. Tactical teams right now sweeping the temple. They have done several sweeps of this temple. At first report, there was concern about multiple shooters. Police say they believe it was one shooter. The witnesses on the scene keep saying shooters, shooters, with an s, but they don't believe that there were multiple shooters at this time. They believe that it was just the same report from multiple people, leading people to believe that there were a number of shooters. And according to Christopher Voss, who is a former FBI hostage negotiator, he said it could have been that the shooter could have been shooting in different places, and therefore making people on the scene, witnesses and the people who were subjected to this believe that there was more than one shooter. So we'll continue to follow this breaking news coverage. We're waiting again for a police press conference to happen within the hour here on CNN, at 4:30 Eastern Time, we believe, but it could happen before that. They may get new information. Until then, we'll continue to cover it. We have a short break. We'll be back with our rolling coverage.
LEMON: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here with Rob Marciano, Deb Feyerick covering this story from New York for us as well. 3:44 Eastern Time. What we learned this morning at about 10:15 Central Time, a gunman walked into a temple and started shooting. Seven people are dead, including that gunman, we believe. The police say the gunman is presumed dead outside the temple.
Three of those people were found dead outside of this temple, four found dead inside the temple. The 911 call again coming in 10:00 a.m., just after 10:00 a.m., 10:25 local time, in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek.
Here's what the caller said to 911, that at least one gunman had entered this temple and started shooting. Police confirm that as well. Police also say that when the officer arrived, a 20-year veteran of the police department, that he exchanged gunfire with the gunman. The gunman was shot and is down, they say, presumed dead. The officer shot in this, multiple gunshot wounds, taken to the hospital. People were trapped inside of this building. Some of them are children.
And just a short time ago, again, police updated us saying that -- talking about the number of people who were shot and injured in all of this. Our affiliate WTMJ -- are we going to go to them now?
MARCIANO: They've been talking to some family members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like you're trying to piece together information from what you're hearing from those who you know inside, from law enforcement, from each other. Do you have some perspective now on exactly who it was that lost their life and who was wounded? Do you think that you've been able to kind of confirm who those people are? You don't need to say their names on TV. But do you know who they are?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. I know who they are. We -- every Sunday, even some time Thursday we are there in the temple, and we all together and pray. And these are -- some of them play instruments, and we (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it get more difficult when you go from hearing that there was a shooting, not knowing who the people are who were hit, wounded, and lost their lives, to now hearing who those people are -- does it get more difficult as the time goes on here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's very -- it's a very difficult time. We still don't know who's there inside and who is the families, some that are hurt. So far I heard like 25 people and -- is hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 25 people are hurt or were inside?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside, they're hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to be clear, you believe 25 people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody said that. But like I said, I really cannot confirm. And it's really -- nobody going to go inside yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that part of the struggle here, is not knowing the information about who's hurt and where people are and how badly they're hurt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's really badly -- the time is right now -- it's only -- I would say we just only pray to the God. Only that can we think. Until I hope everything should be over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you, as we had mentioned, you're the secretary, one of the leaders of this temple. What can you tell us about the time that this occurred and when the most number of people would have been inside? This happened really before the main services began.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Like 11:00 or 11:30, our -- the services start. Like actually in the morning, 9:00 or 9:30. Then we have like a couple of hours, 10:00, 11:30, start with the instruments and then devotions. Then after -- we have last three days of our holy book, will start to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would have been going on, you're saying, during a continuous reading of the holy book?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy book, continue for three days. So which is somewhere around I think about -- they're very close to be the finish. I don't --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around the time the shooting happened, I think it was close to entire --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Complete--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being completely read.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the holy book reading was almost complete when the shooting occurred?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It takes about 48 hours. And the shooting occurred around 10:30, that's usually when we finish on a Sunday morning. That's a morning service that we have for the closing reading of the -- of our holy book. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And sir, are you one of the leaders also of the temple?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- I help out there. I help out. I'm part of the congregation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand. One of the big questions is we're waiting to hear if any children are among the victims. Do you know the answer to that question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't, but I heard that a lot of them got out recently. That's the word that I've heard. But like very few confirmed reports right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So what information -- there's so many questions. What are the main questions that you're hoping to get answers for at this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biggest question we have, is this a hate crime? I mean, what did we do wrong? We've had, since 9/11, we've had small attacks on the community. They've been so small they don't make really a splash in the major media. There's -- I mean, recently in April of this year, they passed a law to actually document Sikh hate crimes. For a long time we were considered part of Hindu religion. Recently they passed a law in just April of this year to document Sikh hate crimes related. So that -- the figures might come out recently after that.
But yes, major question is what did we do wrong? Was this a mad man? Was this just a guy who flipped? Did he hate us for our appearance? Those are major questions. I mean, if it was a random act of violence -- I mean, there is no consolation in any of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we don't want to get too far into speculation about what may have happened. You mentioned that other -- there have been other attacks that you are aware of. Is it something where people in some ways are in fear of going to worship, or is it the kind of thing where you believe it won't happen here and you don't -- you feel at peace going to your place of worship?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like if you look at Columbine and you look at the recent shooting with the Batman opening, these are just random acts of violence. So I don't think people are afraid to go back. There is no hesitation, but I don't think anybody here in the congregation is afraid to go back to Gurdwara. That's what we call a temple. You have to remember this is --
LEMON: And I think that gentleman was making a very good point and the point that we have been making here. We don't know if it is a random act of violence. And there is never a good reason for anything like this to happen. So we should not be speculating about what caused this, whether it was terrorism or anything else. It could be just someone who was a deranged person. We don't know if they were upset with anyone at the temple or anything like that. And police are not releasing any information. They probably don't know at this point what the gunman's motive was. What they do believe is that the gunman is among the dead, one of seven people dead. And it is interesting in these situations, I think this is a point where we will learn -- it is a learning point for everyone, where we learn more about this particular religion, we learn more about the fears of people who -- of Americans who live here that many people don't know much about.
And earlier when we had a gentleman on who was sort of going into what happens, the religion, the fear, terrorism, too early to speculate. And so we don't want to go there, but we will provide some context about what was happening at this particular temple when this shooting went down. We are going to talk to him in just moments. But all we know now is folks are coming out, seven people are dead.
MARCIANO: And the situation seemingly contained.
And back to your religious point. Not Hindu, not Muslim. But for those who want to know more and learn more about the Sikh religion, we have someone who is in our Atlanta studios that is going to shed some light on that. If we have Surinder Singh plugged in, I'd like to go to Mr. Singh--
LEMON: Why don't we -- we'll get to Surinder Singh in just a moment. We'll go to a quick break and we'll gather our thoughts and our information here. Don Lemon in Atlanta. Rob Marciano. Our Deb Feyerick is in New York. We are getting new details. We are hearing from witnesses that are starting to come out now. We are hearing from the police department. Police department holding a press briefing at the bottom of the hour, 4:30 p.m. Eastern. It is 3:52 -- 2:52 I should say Central Time where this happened, 3:52 here. In just about 40 minutes or so, we are going to hear from the police department. Quick break and we'll be back in a moment.
LEMON: News coverage of a temple shooting in Wisconsin. We are being told now seven people are dead. Among them, police believe, is the shooter. They are only saying that the shooter is a man. They are also telling us that three people who they know are in the hospital right now are in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds to all parts of the body, from the face to the head, abdomen and extremities. One of those at the hospital in critical condition, a police officer who confronted that gunman and shot him, and the quote from officers "put him down," presumed dead, Rob.
MARCIANO: Yes, and this is at a Sikh temple just south of Milwaukee. And we were hearing from some of the church or the temple leaders, congregation leaders there earlier from our affiliate. And they were kind of telling us what a typical weekend would be for them, with 48 hour prayers and then women and children kind of gathering before a larger meal.
But you know, we are all kind of learning a little bit more about this religion slowly, and we want to glean some of that information to you. And so we have called an expert here in Atlanta, Surinder Singh. He joins us from our Atlanta studios. Mr. Singh, first of all, my condolences to the Sikh community. A horrible day for your people. And we thank you for coming in.
Give us -- can you just give us the basis for your religion? I heard you during the break pronounce it differently. Pronounce it correctly for me and tell me the basis of your religion.
SURINDER SINGH, PUBLIC RELATIONS, GURU NANAK MISSION SOC. OF ATLANTA: The Sikhism was born in northern India. And it was in 1699 when we came into existence. But our father, we called it Guru Nanak, the first guru. He started it in 1569, and he was born in 1569, and after that, that was the foundation laid by him as a community.
MARCIANO: So what are your -- your basic beliefs -- on a typical weekend, we heard some of the church leaders speak about a 48-hour prayer reading that would be culminating or concluding earlier this morning. Is that typical across the world in temples on a typical weekend? Describe for us how a worship schedule would go on a Sunday.
SINGH: Every Sunday, all those Gurdwaras -- we call them Gurdwaras, not a temple is the right word. We're the home of the gurus. The guru is we call from where we get the light.
Our holy book is the living guru we call Guru Granth Sahib, and every Sunday there is a prayer throughout the word, including the United States of America. And the 48-hour reciting of the book is not in every church, in every Gurdwara happen, but it is happening in some Gurdwaras but not in every. But usually there is hymns (ph) we recite together. We sit together. Usually in the morning time, and then we have an afternoon kind of service, typically around 1:30 or 2:00.
MARCIANO: Mr. Singh, if you could, just stay with us for just a moment.