Valley Sikh community reacts to Wisconsin shooting

FRESNO, Calif.

Action News visited one of nine Sikh temples, Gurdwaras as they're called, here in the Valley.

Members of the congregation were actually in prayer services Sunday morning when they heard about the shooting in Wisconsin.

Sharnjit Purewal is the associate secretary for the Sikh Council of Central California.

He says Sikh congregations here in the Valley are already praying for the lives lost and the survivors of the shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin.

"It was a gut wrenching reaction when I found out the news, especially when I found out how many individuals had been killed," Purewal said.

Members of the Sikh Council offered their condolences Sunday at the Sikh Association of Fresno.

"This was a senseless act of hatred against the community and this should not happen. And we need to bring more awareness in our community about Sikh culture and Sikh people. They are peace-loving people," Perminder Bhatia of the Sikh Association of Fresno said.

The council estimates anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. Sikh community is here in California.

Sikhs have been the target of many hate crimes since the September 11th terrorist attacks. While Perminder Bhatia says that upsets him he's now praising the heroic efforts by police officers who risked their lives when they were confronted by the shooter this morning.

"I stand by my community up there in Wisconsin. I pray for them. I also appreciate the effort of the police officer who did not fear for his life and defended and prevented the massacre from being more bigger. He protected innocent lives," he said.

This temple is already planning a vigil to remember the victim's in this morning shooting in Wisconsin. That will take place at the temple on Friday evening. Action News has learned they're organizing a fundraiser to help the victim's families.

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