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For Some, Wisconsin Sikh Shooting Recalls Elk Grove Incident

A gunman and six victims were killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the incident reminds some of a still-unsolved homicide of two Sikh men in Elk Grove last year.

More than 2,000 miles across the country, a community spent Sunday wondering the same thing many Elk Grove residents struggled with last year: Why had some of its peaceful community members been shot dead? 

In Oak Creek, Wis., six people at a Sikh temple were killed by a gunman who was eventually shot and killed by police.

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As of Sunday night, a motive is not known

Bobbie Singh-Allen, an Elk Grove resident who described herself as a leader in the Sikh community, said she's sure both were hate crimes. She said her 10 and 12-year-old sons "are afraid."

"The underlying premise is still the same [in both shootings]," Singh-Allen said. "You have a bunch of ignorant, racist people out there who are still profiling Sikhs and making horrible assumptions of who we are as a community."

Violence and discrimination against peopled "perceived to be Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian" spiked following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"I can't think of a worse hate crime than targeting innocent people who are going about their daily life," Singh-Allen said.

She encouraged Sikh men to wear their turbans proudly despite the Wisconsin shooting, and said she hoped local schools would do more to educate young students about different religions.

Amar Shergill, a West Sacramento attorney who is a board member of that city's Sikh temple and the American Sikh Political Action Committee, said he was shocked to hear about the Oak Creek killings.

"When I heard about it this morning I had the breath taken out of me," Shergill said. "in a lot of ways it was similar to what happened in Elk Grove last year. Both incidents strike at the heart of the Sikh community."

He blamed attacks against Sikhs on ignorance, saying while the Sikh community had done a lot to reach out and educate others, that effort would move faster if the nation's leaders stepped forward to help.

President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday with condolences for the victims, and said "we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."

Locally, Shergill said Elk Grove City Council Members Steve Detrick and Sophia Scherman "have been longtime friends of the Sikh community" and .

"At the same time it should be noted, these incidents are not representative [of] what the United States is all about," Shergill said.

Readers weighed in on Elk Grove Patch's Facebook page Sunday, with Albert Garcia writing: "Regardless of your religion, it's ignorance that provoked such stupidity. I don't have to be Sikh to realize that people are just trash."

Amanpreet Kaur said he was "trying to make sense of a senseless act w/ a looming question, 'why?' "

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