Return to Transcripts main page


More Details of the Shooting at a Sikh Templein Wisconsin

Aired August 5, 2012 - 16:00   ET


ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour, so we want to kind of reset for our viewers what has been going on there in Wisconsin. So stay right there. It's the top of the hour, 4:00 Eastern time. At 10:25 Central Time, a 911 call went into the Oak Creek Police Department there, just south of Milwaukee, where a shooting took place at that Sikh temple, a gunman killing six people that we know of.

Many more were injured, including women and children, were, just recently, some of them let out of the basement of that facility.

An officer engaged with this gunman -- that was at the time outside of the temple. He managed to shoot the gunman down.

And the gunman is presumed dead, that officer shot multiple times, was taken to an area hospital and is being worked on as we speak for several hours. There were as many as 30 to 50 people, estimates, trapped inside that temple.

Police tactical forces were then inside the facility, which is about 17,000 square feet. There you see it, a large facility that they had to sweep through and check all the nooks and crannies for the possibility of a second gunman. That so far has not been confirmed, and we're assuming that's not the case, but we are, Don, awaiting another press conference with fresh information in about 30 minutes.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I would like to of course welcome our viewers here in the United States, who watch us all the time, and also our viewers from around the world. I'm Don Lemon, Rob Marciano, here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Deborah Feyerick following the story for us, getting information from New York. She will join us soon. But we are speaking now with Surinder, seeing who is giving more information, more details, really, on Sikhism and also this particular group that was preparing for worship here.

Mr. Singh, thank you so much for joining us. Listen, I want to -- Raj Singh joined us a little bit earlier. And he was saying, giving us more context, saying that this particular sect was part of a group and it sounds contradictory, but according to him it was Hindu Sikh.

Why would he say that? Because we know Sikhs are not Muslims and there are people who are saying that Sikhs cannot be Hindu. You say they can. And this was part -- is this part of an unusual sect? or is that this is a possibility with this group in this temple? SURINDER SINGH, PR, GURU NANAK MISSION SOCIETY OF ATLANTA: What I can tell you about this one, Hindu and Sikhs are living together in India from the centuries. And we have a bond with Hindus.

So a lot of Hindus that come to our church as though we are a separate community but we have a lot of things in common. We go to all those Hindu functions and they come to other gurdwaras regularly. That's what I think he tried to say earlier.

LEMON: And so as you are listening to the coverage here, when you hear about it, there have -- people have been talking about what has happened after 9/11, about many Americans needing more education about other religious groups, about Sikhism and what have you, about Hinduism and the particular trials and discrimination that those groups have faced after 9/11.

Is that something that is always top of mind for you?

SINGH: Yes, sir, because I was over here in Atlanta at that time and I saw a lot of things happen. But we were a victim of mistaken identity. A lot of people were not very sure who the Sikhs are and what we stand for.

So a lot of people think we are maybe Muslims, but we are not. And some of the mixing up of the Hindus. We are not. It is separate, fourth largest religion in the world. If you know, the prime minister of India is also a Sikh, Manmohan Singh.

LEMON: So, listen, as we continue to talk about this -- and I thought the people who were coming out of the temple who had witnessed this made some very good points. They are not sure what the motivation of this gunman is. This gunman is believed to be dead. It could turn out that it is terrorism.

It could turn out that there's a possibility that this gunman had an issue with Sikhism or an issue maybe with one person inside the temple. We don't know that at this point. But what I thought was important is that the witness said that what we do know, we have people who are dead and people who are mourning right now, and we need to focus on that. What do you say to that?

SINGH: It is a saddened day for all of us. We are a community who always pray for the well-being of the entire world, well-being for that, regardless of color, creed and religion. So at this point, I don't know who the person is, because that person maybe just have some -- his own problems or some motivation behind it, which I would not like to bring at this stage.

But whoever did this one is a -- I would say -- a crime against humanity. It is not about Sikhs. It is not about Muslims. It's not about Hindus. It's about the human mankind.

MARCIANO: (Inaudible).

LEMON: Very well said.

MARCIANO: An excellent point, Mr. Singh.

And back to the religion specifics, now that we have you, and our viewers may be wondering or are uneducated in the theology on this, describe for us in brief what are the pillars of your faith?

SINGH: We believe in one God. And we respect all the religions. And we believe in the humility and very peaceful religion.

MARCIANO: So that said, forgiveness a part of your religion, I think this obviously would be too soon for that, but what goes through the minds of the spiritual leaders and this congregation and those throughout the country? What can you imagine will go through their minds in a situation like this?

SINGH: Definitely everybody has their own interpretations and their way of thinking. But I would say everybody will be mourning. They will not be feeling very comfortable, because we paid the price right after 9/11. We were the victims of mistaken identity and a few Sikhs were gunned down during that time.

The guy from the Phoenix was the first fatality of 9/11 that was from the Sikh community. So everybody will be kind of scared and looking into that one, OK, how we can prevent these kind of atrocities in the future.

MARCIANO: Mr. Singh, we thank you for your insight. Again, we -- our condolences to you and the Sikh community on this horrible day. Surinder Singh, joining us from Atlanta with some insight on that, the Sikh religion.

Thank you, Mr. Singh.

LEMON: Yes, very good clarification there. And which is good, again, as we said one reason we don't want to get bogged down because we don't really know. It is great to learn about this. We should all be more educated about everyone, everyone who's America is a big melting pot of a number of different people from different nationalities, ethnicities, faiths, religions, beliefs.

And at this point what we are concerned about here is the shooting that took place, 10:25 this morning in Wisconsin at a temple, people gathering to worship. As many as 300 to 400 people could have been inside of this temple at the time. There were not that many yet, because the women and children were just starting to arrive.

Witness accounts say the first person to see this gunman was a 10- year-old child. They don't believe that any children were harmed in the shooting. We are not sure yet, but we do know is that seven people are dead, including the gunman.

Police preface that by saying the gunman is down. They believe he is dead. They are going to update us at the bottom of the hour, in just about 20 minutes here in CNN.

They are preparing to worship. The women were cooking. This gunman comes in. Of course, there is chaos. Women ran for their lives. The children, as well. Women were hiding in closets, some of them were there for hours.

Once this 20-year veteran of the police department got on the scene after the 9-1-1 call. he exchanged fire with the gunman. He hit the gunman and "put the gunman down" -- and that's a quote according to police.

And the gunman is presumed dead. The officer was injured in the shooting and has now been taken to the hospital, where there are three people. Gunshot wounds to the face, multiple gunshot wounds to the face. Gunshot wounds to the abdomen -- multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen. And gunshot wounds to the extremities.

We are told one person is in surgery, another person in intensive care, another being assessed by emergency workers in the emergency department with gunshot wounds to the face. Police doing tactical sweeps of this temple. And these are live pictures that you are looking at now from our affiliate WISN.

MARCIANO: And we are just now getting some confirmation from our affiliate WTMJ about those tactical sweeps. That building, the temple itself or the gurdwara, more specifically, has been cleared. They are now in the parking lot and searching cars as well, to confirm that there is not a second shooter.

Temple members outside of the gurdwara are calling the police officer who was shot a hero, as you would imagine, one member saying, quote, "He took bullets for us." The women and children have now been allowed to exit that gurdwara and the situation contained, but police now actively outside, searching cars.

LEMON: Yes. SWAT team members removed uninjured people from the temple. Members of the temple were in the basement being interviewed by police officers; those who witnessed this, some of them being allowed to leave. You can see some of the women there being allowed to leave. You see the crime scene tape.

And this was just moments ago. This is from our affiliate WITI earlier in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We will talk more about what happened inside of the temple of people who were in there and sadly who witnessed this horrific incident are now beginning to speak to the media. And we also have more information from law enforcement.

We are awaiting, again, a press conference at the bottom of the hour, from Wisconsin, for police to update us. They believe there is only one shooter, but those who were at the scene say shooters, multiple shooters, they believe.

But at this point police believe only one shooter. Deb Feyerick is getting information on that in New York. Rob Marciano, Don Lemon here in Atlanta, details, more of them, on the other side of the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.

LEMON: Don Lemon and Rob Marciano, CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Our Deb Feyerick -- bring Deb up. Deb is in New York and she is getting details as well. She has been following this information.

Deb, we are going to get to you in just a moment here. We just want to tell our viewers who are here in the United States and also around the world there has been a shooting at a temple in Wisconsin. Seven people are dead, they believe including the gunman. Four of those people were found dead inside, three of them outside.

The one outside, one of those three, is the gunman and -- who police are saying presumed dead. In just about 15 minutes we want to tell you that there is a press conference in Wisconsin to talk about this.

We are also getting analysis from the Sikh community to talk about what happens in their places of worship. And obviously a stunned community. But in this particular incident, when we see something like this happen in the United States, at this point we are all Americans, right, and we want to know what happened to the victims and what is going on at the church.

And then we will give analysis about faith and what have you as it plays out as it is warranted. But right now the investigation is underway.

Rob Marciano, I just want to say that the President of the United States has been updated on this. John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism advisor, notified him of the shooting. The president was continuing to receive updates on the incident in suburban Milwaukee, and a number of communities have come forward, including the Muslim community, to denounce this shooting.

MARCIANO: Yes, for whatever the reason, a sad and shocking day, just on the heels of the Aurora massacre. I just can't even fathom this happening again, and it certainly has.

What has happened -- what we found out new in the past 45 minutes or so, that temple or gurdwara, more specifically, a 70,000-square foot facility where women and children and other victims were held up or at least trapped, that building has since been cleared by police tactical forces.

They have allowed most of those victims to exit the building, many of whom, as you would imagine, being treated medically and some being evacuated to a medical facility. So that is what we know that is new. Also the police are searching vehicles outside (inaudible).


LEMON: Yes. And Deb Feyerick has been paying close attention. She's been speaking to law enforcement, but not only that, paying attention to what the people have been saying who are coming out of this temple, the people who witnessed this incident, the people whose loved ones were inside of this temple, Deb. We are hearing that a 10-year-old child possibly one of the first people to see this shooter.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's what's so scary. Law enforcement right now really has to piece together exactly who saw what. And they did that, the SWAT teams, the tactical teams that you mentioned. First, they had to clear the building, making sure that there wasn't a second gunman inside.

They segregated the witnesses, the men, the women, the children who had been in there when the shooting began. They questioned each and everyone of them. They also wanted to make sure, just protectively, that a second gunman perhaps was not hiding among them.

The SWAT team then, once they contained the situation, they were able to remove injured from the building and get the witnesses out. One of the reasons you mentioned that they are now searching cars and now searching vehicles, well, it's not just for the presence of another gunman, but presumably the gunman is dead.

He was shot and killed by that heroic police officer who encountered him on the scene. And so if they haven't yet identified the gunman, what they are going to try to do is they need to figure out how he got there. And that is probably in a car.

So if they can find his car, they can find the license plates, they can run a check. They can discover his identity and then carry out a search warrant on his home to find out exactly how he planned this, whether he had accomplices and perhaps even what the motivation is.

You mentioned there were seven who are dead, including the gunman it appears, the alleged gunman. Three also critically wounded, including that police officer, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds. And the time in this temple -- and we heard from a number of members of the community, saying this was sort of a holy time. They were just nearing the completion of reading their holy book.

And so you see a lot of the women who were there; they were preparing a meal. There was a devotion, there was a worship, it was Sunday, a very busy day. That's when the community kind of comes together where they can worship as a whole with their families. So it was supposed to be a day of joy, a day of celebration obviously, before this all happened.

Now this is not just happening here in America. The Indian embassy has been monitoring the situation very closely. They are in touch with the National Security Council. And there is added security at a second temple in the Wisconsin area, in the Oak Creek area. That's being done simply as a precaution.

But the NYPD, obviously concern of copycat crimes, they have now added some additional police security to temples in the New York City area and the Muslim community also saying that they need to be looking and making sure that they are taking precautions, as well.

So right now we know seven dead, three critically wounded, including the gunman. The identity of the gunman still has not been announced. We may hear more about that at about 4:30. But clearly the next step for law enforcement is to find out who he is, why he did this, whether he had anyone helping him or, worse-case scenario, even anything else planned, Don? Rob?

LEMON: Yes. And just where you are, New York City, Deb, I want to read this. And you can talk to me a little bit about it. This is from Paul J. Brown. He's a deputy commissioner of the New York City Police Department.

He says, "The NYPD is increasing coverage in and around Sikh temples in New York City today, including the deployment of critical response vehicles as a precaution in the wake of the Wisconsin shooting. There is no known threat" -- as you said -- "against Sikh temples in New York City; however, the coverage is being put in place out of an abundance of caution."

New York City, of course, one of the most populous cities in the world. They are used to dealing with situations like this, sadly. But they are doing this in an abundance of precaution there in New York, Deb, just as a precaution --


FEYERICK: And also there --

LEMON: -- no known threats.

FEYERICK: Correct, correct. And one of the reasons that they do put additional security when you have a shooting like this, it's to act as a deterrent. They want to make sure that anybody who may be thinking about a copycat crime, in fact, stops thinking about it.

That is why they will put heavily armed guards. They have different units who are specifically trained, who will stand outside of temples or mosques or synagogues.

What is so frightening about this, Don and Rob, is that this could have been anybody's temple, anybody's church, anybody's synagogue, anybody's place of worship. Why it was the Sikh community here in Oak Creek, that's something law enforcement obviously trying to determine now.

LEMON: Deb Feyerick, stand by.

We want to go to our belief blog editor, Eric Marrapodi. He is in Washington, D.C., Eric, very -- on, our belief blog, one of the most trafficked websites on and really in the world, where you talk about this particular thing.

You heard what the gentleman said earlier, explaining what happens at their faith in temple on Sunday morning. And then more clarification about what they were doing about Sikhism, not Muslims. But there was some concern because one person came on the air, saying that this was a -- they were Hindu Sikhs.

The second gentleman came on, saying that's a possibility. Other people are saying no way, Hindus are not Sikh. Talk to us more about these particular distinctions here.

ERIC MARRAPODI, CO-EDITOR, CNN BELIEFBLOG: Don, when we look at Sikhism here in the United States, there are about 700,000 to 750,000 Sikhs. Now Sikhs believe they are a specific revealed religion, which means they are -in their own sort of monotheistic faith. There are some elements of Hinduism that come in the beginning origins of the faith in the 1500s, and some Muslim, as well.

But what we have here is its own unique faith. About 750,000 folks here in the United States who practice, largely from the Indian community. Of course, Sikhism comes from India in its origins. And what happens on a typical worship day, here in the United States it is most often on a Sunday.

There is no specific what we might call a Sabbath in other faiths. In Sikhism it can be any day. And in India you have those temples open every day of the week. And you have prayers and meditation going on.

Here in the United States it often follows the work calendar here. So on the weekends is when you see most of the bit sort of family --


Eric, stand by. We want to get to the police in Wisconsin holding a press conference. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you that, at this time, we have not identified any additional gunmen.

That is the Greenfield police chief and even --

LEMON: That was from moments ago. So listen, we are expecting at the bottom of the hour, just shortly here in about seven minutes or so, the police to hold a new briefing. That one was just about an hour or so ago, hour and a half ago. But they are expecting to hold a new briefing.

Eric Marrapodi, who is the co-editor of our belief blog, here talking about Sikhism. Continue your thoughts, sir.

MARRAPODI: We've heard a lot about the women who would have been preparing food in a kitchen. And what you have in a Sikh service is you have the prayers and the meditation at the beginning of a service. And folks come in, they sit on the floor. Their shoes are off, their heads are covered.

And then afterwards you have the Langar halls, which are these large community gatherings that are open to everyone in the community. In the United States, that is typically held on Sunday. And it is a devotional mean, where the community gathers. And it's open to everyone, regardless of faith or creed or origin. And so that's in all likelihood what the women would have been preparing for.

And in a lot of communities, and in particular in India, where there are a lot more Sikhs, 25 million Sikhs across the whole world here, Don, you would have seen these Langar halls open every day and feeding the poor. Sikhs are, in this country, are very well known for their community service.

And one thing that we talked about here a little bit on the air is the confusion, the distinction people often fail to make between Sikhs and Muslims. And often we see Sikhs unfairly targeted. Earlier this year in Michigan, there was a gurdwara that was vandalized, mistakenly as a mosque. The vandals were -- apparently thought the building was a mosque and tagged it. They graffitied on it with some hateful things.

And we saw that, as you heard earlier, in Phoenix right after 9/11, the first retaliatory killing after 9/11 was of a man who was a Sikh, who was mistakenly identified as a Muslim.

Of course we are hearing from the Muslim community as well, they are talking about these same things, the horrific nature, and sharing the burden with another minority faith here in the United States and talking about their sadness and sharing what is being unfairly targeted.

LEMON: OK. Eric, stand by. Deb Feyerick standing by in New York as well. Rob Marciano here in Atlanta. I'm Don Lemon. We are continuing coverage of this shooting that happened.

And it's just -- it's unbelievable to be sitting here, just two weeks after that horrible Aurora shooting, where we know so many people died in that, and then hearing today that now there is another shooting, where seven people, according to police officers, have died, one of them believed to be the gunman inside of this temple.

A police officer who is being called a hero in a heroic effort to stop this gunman exchanged gunfire with the gunman, putting the gunman down.

Police believe the gunman is dead, but now this police officer is in the hospital with two other people in critical condition, multiple gunshot wounds to the face, to the abdomen and also to the extremities. Those are the injuries from all three of those victims that are in critical condition at this hospital in Wisconsin.

People are starting to come out of this temple who were inside, who witnessed this. They are talking to the media. A press conference in just about two or three minutes here on CNN. We will carry it live for you from Wisconsin.


MARCIANO: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of breaking news of the shooting in a temple just outside of Milwaukee. We are waiting on a police press conference outside of that area, in the staging area, where members of the media, obviously, and friends and families of those victims also gathering in as that conference is broadcast. We'll bring it to you live.

LEMON: Yes, and I'm just getting information that we have a statement just in from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker regarding the shooting. And here is what he says.

He says, "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence. At the same time we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends."

And of course, Rob, the police officer who encountered this gunman, the first law enforcement person to encounter this gunman who is now -- this police officer in critical condition, being called heroic.

MARCIANO: Absolutely.

LEMON: This officer put the gunman down, meaning he shot him, presumed dead. Three of the dead found outside of this temple, one of them believed to be the gunman, four of them found inside of the temple.

All of the dead believed to be adults. There were women and children who were inside the temple at the time of the shooting. And we are told one of the first people to encounter this gunman may have been a 10-year-old child.

The women were cooking; they were preparing for a large meal as -- for worship. They had a worship service today and then there's a large meal where 300 to 400 people could show up for this meal. And the women and children were there. They started scrambling, according to witnesses who were there, many of them hiding in closets.

Once this was all -- and I should point out, the people who were on the scene say shooters -- they thought it was more than one shooter. Police believe there is only one shooter in this case. And the reason people on the scene may be saying there were shooters according to a former FBI hostage negotiator is because several different places the gunman may have gone throughout the building.

MARCIANO: Just the chaos. The frantic nature of what must have been going on when it was all going down if you were a member of that congregation, that temple.

LEMON: Right. These pictures are from just moments ago from our affiliate WISN. Tactical sweeps still underway. A press conference very shortly to be live here on CNN.

Deborah Feyerick is in New York. Eric Marrpodi who is a co-editor of our "Belief Blog." We want to welcome our Rob Marciano and Don Lemon here in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers outside of the United States. Our viewers from around the world who are watching this horrific incident that took place just after 10:00 Central Time in Oak Creek, Wisconsin just south of Milwaukee. The first call to 911 came in at 10:25 and that is right after the 20 year veteran of the regional police department showed up on scene and encountered the gunman and they exchanged fire.

MARCIANO: You know we haven't really gotten a lot of play by play from the police department other than that. You would imagine the protocol would be for an officer to call for backup. But if a 911 call goes in and a patrol car is dispatched it will be enlightening to hear what the play by play with that shooter was. The details that we do know is what Don just said. He engaged in gun fire with the shooter who had already opened fire on that congregation killing six people and that officer took several shots to himself. He is now being treated at the local hospital. He managed to put enough lead into the shooter to put him down. Where his partner was and if any and we are aware of a backup car was in route potentially as well. Those details need to be sorted out. It was definitely a heroic act.

LEMON: Because the shooter is presumed dead, finding motivation for this is obviously going to be a bit more harder for police officers and for investigators because they don't know and we don't know much about the shooter. There were earlier reports that it was a bald man who went into this temple and started shooting. We don't know the details; we don't know the motivation behind this. That will surely play out.

We are also learning that the press conference is as you can imagine they are gathering as much information as possible. That press conference being delayed just a bit. They are not exactly sure how long it can happen now. It could happen in 30 minutes they are not exactly sure.

We should also say Deb Feyerick is in New York and she has been following the situation, Deb what happened inside and also for law enforcement the congregation president we are told wounded in the shooting that is according to his son who came out and was interviewed by our affiliate there. He said one of the witnesses said nobody is angry here. We are just confused. Investigators said they found six bodies at the temple but the police officer, the chief said it was seven. So six bodies at the Temple, but again four inside, three outside, one of them believed the gunman. The officer who shot and killed that gunman is wounded; the good news is that he is expected to live.

Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: We have been hearing from the trauma center that is treating not only that officer but the other two males that were brought in there presumably still in surgery. Don describe for me in detail the wounds. But the positive news that has come out in the last hour or so is that the sweeps of that building, that temple, that 17,000 square foot facility very diligent stuff that had to be done by those tactical forces according to our affiliates that has been completed. And now the search is on in the parking lot as Deb Feyerick who is in New York has pointed out earlier.

Deb, they are trying to find this guy's car. I am assuming he went to this place in his car so they can find out where he lives and all that personal information and start this investigation and to figure out who he was and why he would do such a thing.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And it's been about five or six hours since the actual shooting began. Usually information about a gunman does trickle out in that amount of time especially since the alleged gunman is presumably dead. So maybe he didn't have identification on him. That is one of the reasons they would be going through the parking lot, trying to figure out what car does not belong in that parking lot. You can see some of the pictures there, some of the cars that are there. Obviously they ruled out which cars belong to members of the community and which ones do not. Clearly they would be looking for a car that would have easy access and easy get away. Once that was done if in fact that was the gunman's plan to go in and to shoot and get out, to get away. Again, one of the reasons that they didn't know whether there were more than one gunman was simply because police got multiple calls, multiple times and they just wanted to make sure. We see a little bit of activity going on there at one car. It looks like a red vehicle there. It is hard to make out specifically what they are doing.

It is interesting the helicopters are now back in the air it appears because earlier they were pulled back so they wouldn't get any of the strategic location. But I couldn't tell which was kind of interesting Rob maybe you can clarify it, it looked like the car was facing outwards which is an interesting tactic. I know certain people in certain war torn countries tend to park with the vehicle pointing out so they can get in and sort of gun it. But right now they are looking for information on the gunman to find out exactly who he is and what his motivation may have been. Once they get an identity obviously a search warrant they will go check his house. As you can see the car is pointing out. It's hard to tell from the air.

MARCIANO: That red SUV right there, is that the one you are talking about?

FEYERICK: Yes that is the I'm looking at. Because it looks like there is some activity going on around that particular vehicle. Clearly it is not so far from the entrance to the temple. And it would be putting it in a direction where it would have been easier for that person to get out. This is a situation where everyone around the world is monitoring because if you think of the Sikh religion it is a religion that began in the 15th century and there are between 20 and 27 million Sikhs world wide. And a big concern is, it is very interesting I spoke to a senior producer here and asked who is from the region who has family in Pakistan. I said do you know anybody perhaps from this particular temple. Within moments she said Oh my god I know somebody I grew up with them. They have been going to that temple for the whole time.

So it's a large community but at the same time it is a small community. So everybody is keeping an eye on this just to see specifically what is going on and how this plays out. The Indian Embassy is monitoring this very closely. They have been in touch with the National Security Council. And part of the tragedy, also Rob, is that when we heard some of the community members coming out of that temple the names of the dead, the names of the victims began to really filter out and they know who was killed and who was shot in cold blood. And that makes this tragedy more palpable knowing how the day started off as one of prayer and celebration and devotion and has ended in tragedy for a number of families and a number of people who lost their loved ones.


FEYERCK: I know Eric who is there, I think and who writes for the religion blog can add more about what this day was meant to be really. MARCIANO: Deb let me just jump in here. Because I want to see these pictures are coming from our affiliate WTNJ. We don't have control of them so we are seeing a number of different cars in the parking lot. We don't know exactly what the significance of this particular parking lot here. This person either walked or drove and so they maybe are focusing on a particular vehicle but we are not exactly sure we don't have control of these pictures.

They are live.

LEMON: They are live. We are not exactly sure why they are focusing in on the parking lot. And as you said it appeared to be this red SUV. We are not sure. Rob Marciano statement from the president you want to read that?

MARCIANO: Yes, sure. Process of elimination with that car trying to figure out which one if any is the shooter. But you are right. Out of the White House we do have a statement from President Obama. He says "Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin at this difficult time for the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs who are a part of our broader American family." That statement from President Obama regarding the shooting.

LEMON: I believe we have a statement from Mitt Romney, as well.

MARCIANO: Absolutely.

LEMON: That statement coming from the White House just into CNN moments ago about the shooting. And I just want to tell our viewers we are awaiting a press conference here and we are going to learn more information about what happened at this temple inside and out. And it is early on but it would be great to know the motivation of the shooter but this is very early on in the investigation. There you are looking at the scene now live.

You are looking at what has essentially become the command center for emergency workers at this shooting. Mitt Romney also weighing in about his thoughts and prayers on this and his wife also weighing in on that. Rob just read the statement from the president of the United States. We will read what Mitt Romney had to say and also hopefully on the other side of the break we will have that press conference happening live in Wisconsin.

We are back in just moments.


UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news. LEMON: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the temple shooting in Wisconsin. We know that seven people are dead according to police. They were shot at the temple and for of them found dead inside, three found dead outside, one of them believed to be the shooter. Three people in the hospital now in critical condition. Police are doing tactical searches of this temple now and trying to get information and we are awaiting a press conference to happen at any moment here on CNN. We read the statement from the White House a little earlier from President Barack Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama.

Mitt Romney also releasing a statement just moments ago saying about the temple shooting. "Ann and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of today's shooting in Wisconsin. This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing for the difficult days ahead."

We are waiting a press conference. More details live here on CNN in just moments.


MARCIANO: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage of the temple shooting just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We have been relying so heavily on our affiliates for some of the coverage with video and reporting wise. Now our Ted Rowlands from our CNN borough is on the ground there. You are watching still some aerial footage from WTMJ. But we have Ted on the phone with us right now.

LEMON: Hey Ted I understand you are watching some sort of tactical something play out here. What are you seeing there on the ground?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Don. What is basically happening and we are about a mile away from the temple in a field on the corner Mosen and Howell. There are about 50 to 60 members of the S.W.A.T. team that has jurisdiction here with k-9s. They have their guns drawn; they are sweeping a wooded area. The significance of this, of course, we don't know. I tried to talk to somebody but they will not talk to me. I don't know if the shooter lives in this area or what Intel they are going on.

However, it is a significant amount of officers that are preparing to in my measurement looking at what is going on, sweep an area, a wooded area about a mile from the temple. There is also a house adjacent to this area where a number of them are congregating. Now whether or not this house is just being used as a staging area for vehicles or is of significance I just don't know. But we have had multiple reports of more than one shooter and then, of course, the latest we have gotten from authorities is that there is only one shooter, where they would have gotten the Intel to look here we don't know. We are of course awaiting that news conference at the top of the hour. Hopefully we will get more information but that is what we are seeing, that is what I am seeing right now about a mile away in this wooded area a large group of officers getting ready to it looks like sweep the area. LEMON: Ted stand by; don't go anywhere because I think we are going to come back to you. I think it is interesting that Ted mentions that because police were saying they thought, they were sure it was one shooter. They thought it was one shooter and they presumed the shooter was dead after exchanging gun fire with the police officer.

The people outside the temple say they believe it was multiple shooters or at least in their initial accounts to police and to their family members they were saying shooters with an s. And so the police at their press conference said that they wanted to go back into this and do as many tactical sweeps as they could to be 100 percent sure that there wasn't another shooter. So I think it is interesting that Ted is here and seeing this play out. We also learned, too, Ted and Rob that this press conference that was supposed to happen was suppose to happen about 20 minutes ago has been delayed. It may have something to do with what Ted Rowlands is saying just a mile away from this Temple. He is saying he is seeing heavy presence here and a home as well that is near by that is adjacent to the temple.

Again, Ted, pictures there from our affiliate WTMJ. Again Ted, explain to us what you are seeing where you are, how far away and what information that you have come up with.

ROWLANDS: Well I'm .9 miles away from the actual temple. It is a vacant lot that is wooded. It looks like. It extends into sort of a power line alleyway behind at least two homes. It is difficult to tell because they are definitely getting ready to do a grid search. It looks like they are all lined up about ten to 15 feet apart from each other with dogs spread through out. It looks as though they are preparing to walk through this wooded area. Now, maybe this is part of an extended grid they are doing, they are maybe going one mile away from the temple in all directions and maybe that is part of it. But boy it is a significant presence of officers and they definitely have guns out as a precaution I would assume and these dogs. It is definitely significant.

LEMON: All right. Ted stand by. Ted Rowlands not far away from the scene, less than a mile away from the scene of this horrific shooting in Wisconsin that happened this morning. We are waiting for a live press conference in just moments here. That press conference has been delayed obviously because they are putting together information and investigating this shooting. And we don't want the message to get muddled here. This is a horrific shooting that happened earlier. A number of people are dead because of the shooting. A police officer is in the hospital in critical condition and two other people are in the hospital in critical condition. Who the gunman was and why he did it and how it played out, motivation to be determined as the investigation continues. As we wait for that press conference and we are getting word from the White House and other political leaders in the country we will take a quick break and then we will be back in a moment with more continuing coverage of the temple shooting in Wisconsin.


UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news. MARCIANO: We will continue our coverage now. Don Lemon starting a little earlier then scheduled. Thank you for doing that. We have Ted Rowlands now on the ground. Eric Marrpodi our "Belief Blog." Also, Deborah Feyerick in New York. So we are gathering information as we get it. Two press conferences that are scheduled, one is past scheduled, police presser. Also a press conference from the hospital that is treating three of the victims right now.

LEMON: Ted Rowlands is standing by. Ted is about a mile away from the property. He is right on the property line; he is very close to the temple where he is seeing a number of police officers and also officers in tactical gear going through a field.

We just want to update you. You are watching live coverage here on CNN, there was a temple shooting earlier this morning. It happened just after 10:00 Central Time here in the United States at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which is just south of Milwaukee. Now according to the press conference just a short time ago the first call came in at about 10:25. And an officer was on the scene very shortly after that call came in. That officer encountered the gunman, exchanged gun fire with this gunman outside of this building.

Outside of the building three people were found dead, one believed to be the shooter. That is after a tactical sweep. Four people found dead according to police inside of the temple. This gunman came in and started opening fire right after 10:00 Central Time. And according to people who were there on the ground it was a meal that is had on Sunday, part of the celebration on Sunday, a large meal where hundreds of people show up.

First the women and children show up. The women were cooking when the gunman came in. There are reports of people who were there, the first person to see this gunman was a child as young as ten years old. Everyone started to run for cover. Some people hid in closets, some people ran out of the building. Some people ran to other parts of the building trying to get away from this gunman. The people who were there believed that there were multiple shooters on the scene. They were telling police, they were telling the media shooters. We saw shooters.

According to police they believe at the last press conference that it was one shooter and that the gunman may have been at a number of different places in the building and that is why the witnesses are saying shooters instead of shooter. We are waiting for a press conference to happen live here at any moment. It should have happened about 30 minutes ago. That did not happen because they are gathering information and some of that information that they may be gathering or seeking to inform us about could be from the scene that Ted Rowlands is reporting from live now just a short distance away from this temple.

As we look at these live pictures you see members of the media gathered there at the bottom of your screen awaiting investigators to update us on this situation as it pans over. You see the scene in front of them, what has become the command center for this particular thing.