Members of the Greater Boston Sikh community who worship in Medford—with strong connections in Somerville—are distressed by the that left seven people, including the gunman, dead.
Speaking Sunday night, Gurinber Singh, president of Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar, a temple at 226 Mystic Avenue in Medford, and a volunteer in the community, said, "We are really shocked at this moment."
"We couldn't believe it," he said.
Another leader in the Boston Sikh community also .
Worshipers at the Medford temple, or gurdwara (sometimes spelled gurudwara), were in observations from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, and therefore didn't learn of the news until later Sunday afternoon.
Sikh leaders to meet and discuss plans for vigil
Gurinber Singh said leaders of the Sikh community in Greater Boston planned to meet within the next day or two to discuss plans for a vigil or showing of support, but they had nothing concrete scheduled as of Sunday night.
People from as far away as Maine and New Hampshire attend observations at the gurdwara in Medford, Singh said.
A small, connected community
Sikhs come from "a small state in Punjab that is about as big as Massachusetts," he said, and therefore the community is closely connected here in the United States—members of the Sikh community have family, friends and a common background in Punjab.
"It's a small community," said Singh.
"We recently had one girl who got married in that community," he said, speaking of the Sikh community near Milwaukee, where the shooting took place.
Sikhs, because they come from an area of the world near Pakistan and India, and because they sometimes wear headwear, are accustomed to receiving glances on the street, Singh said. Darfhan Singh, a leader at a gurdwara in Everett (formerly located in Somerville), said people often mistake Sikhs for Muslims, which, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, sometimes attracts ire from a certain type of American.
(In the Sikh community, all men have the last name Singh, according to Darfahn Singh.)
Targeted for looking different
"Whenever we go out, people look differently, but we never though this would happen," said Gurinber Singh, talking about the shooting.
"We never felt our community would be targeted, but after this incident we feel more vulnerable than before," he said.
Singh called on the government and media to condemn the shooting.
"There should be no prejudice against people who look different," he said.
He also praised "the heroic act of the police officer who risked his life to get on with his duty" in preventing the gunman from killing more people. The police officer was shot in the incident.
For more coverage of the Wisconsin shooting, .