Late Sunday morning, Amarjit Singh of the Gurdwara Sikh Center of the Mid-South began receiving a flurry of phone calls.
Friends, family and members of the Sikh priest’s Memphis temple had heard about the shooting at Sikh Temple of Wisconsin near Milwaukee, where police reported at least six people were killed when a gunman opened fire Sunday morning.
“They’re all just wondering what’s going on,” he said Sunday afternoon. “Everybody’s shocked.”
As details on the shooting emerged, Singh said worship services at Sikh Center of the Mid-South continued, though with a sense of wariness.
“We’re definitely concerned,” he said. “But the thing is, we don’t know why this happened, what was (the shooter’s) motive, what he was thinking … So we don’t know. But we’re very, very concerned.”
At Mid-South Sikh Sabha in Cordova, services also continued with solemn resolve. Some of its members have relatives who attend the Wisconsin temple, according to Sabha founder Surjit Kamra. He said he was unsure if any of them were harmed, but that Sabha congregants were working to find out.
“As the time goes, I’m sure we’ll know more about it … In a situation like that, people are still in shock,” he said.
Singh said that to his knowledge, no members of Sikh Temple of the Mid-South have friends or relatives who may attend the Wisconsin temple.
Not knowing whether the shooter was a member of the temple he fired upon has weighed on Singh and his congregants, he said. Authorities had not identified the gunman, who was shot dead by police, late Sunday. Depending on what information surfaces in the shooting, Singh and Kamra both said they’ll consider increasing security at their temples, which are two of about a half-dozen Gurdwaras in the state, according to Sikh networking service World Gurdwara.
“We don’t want this scaring people from attending,” Singh said.
Sikh Center of the Mid-South will likely collect donations for the shooting victims and their families, Singh said. Mid-South Sikh Sabha was still determining Sunday what kind of help to provide their Wisconsin brethren.
Singh and Kamra, both originally from India, said they have not felt threatened because of their beliefs since moving to Memphis, though there have been instances where they felt discriminated against.
“We’ve felt very secure in the past,” Kamra said. “And most of the people of Memphis have been very gracious.”