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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Wisconsin
Aired August 6, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 9:00 p.m. here in Wisconsin.
And for the second Monday in two weeks, we are coming to you from a community in shock tonight. People here in Oak Creek tonight are just now beginning the painful journey that people in Aurora, Colorado, started a little more than two weeks ago.
Here tonight, the wounds are just as raw, the anguish just as palpable. However, unlike in Colorado, the victims here who we'll do our best to honor in this hour ahead, the victims here were not just faceless targets for a deranged gunman in a movie theater, but they may have been murdered for who they were, for how they worshiped, perhaps for the color of their skin or the sound of their names.
They were the members of the Sikh community here in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, at a temple, just down the block from where I'm standing right now, preparing for Sunday services when authorities say an Army veteran named Wade Michael Page appeared, took out a .9-millimeter pistol and opened fire.
This is a Facebook picture of him. Yes, that is a swastika in the background. And, no, it's neither the only photo of him striking a racist pose, nor the only hint of his apparently long-held white supremacist beliefs.
Tonight, the latest on efforts to pin down any and all hate group connections he may have had.
Now, earlier today, President Obama reacted to that possibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people. And we look after one another and we respect one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mitt Romney called the shooting a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship.
Nationwide, there's been increased security at many Sikh temples. And tonight, we're going to talk to a -- to local leaders here who are worried this exact thing might happen. Worried about a rise in violence against the Sikh community. Not just here but across the nation.
And as always, focus as much as we can on who the victims were, what their lives were like, who the heroes are who risked everything to save their lives. We begin, though, at the beginning.
COOPER (voice-over): Sunday morning, worshipers at the Sikh temple are reading scripture, cooking food in the kitchen for Sunday's service and preparing for a day of peaceful prayer. At approximately 10: 25, that peace is shattered.
911 OPERATOR: Reports of gunshots. A bald male with glasses may have shot someone. Sikh Temple.
COOPER: A gunman opens fire with a handgun in the parking lot where worshipers are still arriving.
KANWARDEEP SINGH KALEKA, NEPHEW OF SHOOTING VICTIM: The gunman basically came into the parking lot shooting, shot people who were standing out in front, entered the temple and open fired in the opening room, and then went into the religious room and opened fire there.
COOPER: Minutes later the shooter moves inside the temple, continuing to fire. Terrified some worshipers hide behind locked doors. Others rush to protect their loved ones.
According to his family, the temple's leader, Satwant Singh Kaleka, tries to tackle and stab the shooter but is shot and later dies.
KALEKA: Some of the ladies who were making food for the congregation in the kitchen overheard some gunshots and some of them went down to the basement to -- where their kids were playing to protect their kids.
COOPER: Officers begin arriving on the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have someone walking out the driveway towards me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I heard shots. Can you confirm that?
COOPER: Lieutenant Brian Murphy, a 21-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Force, administers aid to a victim in the parking lot when the gunman exits the temple and ambushes him. You can hear the gunshots on the dispatch call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man with a gun. In the parking lot. White T-shirt. JOHN EDWARDS, OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN, POLICE CHIEF: He was shot between eight and nine times during the shooting. A lot of extremity shots. Shot in the neck and the cheek area.
COOPER: Despite a barrage of gunfire, Murphy survives and remains in critical condition. The gunman apparently has no intention of being arrested, however, as other officers arrive on the scene.
EDWARDS: At that point, began to give him commands as far as dropping his weapon and putting his hands up. After giving commands to the individual which he didn't respond to, he did fire. One of our vehicles took some rounds through the windshield. Another one also took some rounds. One of the officers returned fire with his squad rifle putting the individual down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The subject's not moving. We're approaching upon him. He's not moving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance up. Suspect down. Officer's down. I need ambulance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one officer shot.
COOPER: The alleged gunman, a 40-year house veteran named Wade Michael Page, is shot dead just 15 minutes after he starts his deadly rampage. He kills six people. Sending three to the hospital in critical condition. And leaving a peaceful religious community wondering why.
COOPER: And that of course is now the question for state, local and federal authorities. Ted Rowlands is covering the investigation. He has new information about where the suspect purchased the gun allegedly used in the shootings.
What have you learned?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the gun was purchased completely legally at a local shop here called the Shooter's Shop. And it was purchased on July 28.
He had to wait until July 30 to pick it up because Wisconsin has a two-day waiting period. However, there was nothing illegal about this purchase. Nothing out of the ordinary about this purchase. This was a guy without a record who just bought a gun.
COOPER: The FBI is leading this investigation. Where are they looking now?
ROWLANDS: They're talking to everybody that has had contact with him. Not only here but also in other states. Today, we saw video of -- in North Carolina where they looked at a home there where he once stayed with a band mate. And according to our affiliate there, the home had Confederate flags around it. They're looking for everything. They've talked to an ex-girlfriend. They've talked to neighbors. We talked to some of those neighbors as well today. And they're trying to just get a full picture of who this person is. COOPER: You talked about a band. This is what's called White Power Music which we're going to talk about a little bit later on in the program. There have been reports about a girlfriend. Do we know, was he currently seeing someone or...
ROWLANDS: What we've been able to determine talking to a former landlord is that he had just broken up with a girlfriend, or she had just broken up with him. We talked to a couple of neighbors who lived downstairs and across the hall from him and his girlfriend. And they say that he was very standoffish and once he came into the picture, the girlfriend changed. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BROWN, NEIGHBOR OF SUSPECT: Like a, recluse almost. He didn't talk to us at all. I would say hi and he'd just go, uh, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was nice. And then when he moved in, she just changed. You could tell he was running the show. He -- she wasn't as friendly anymore. She wasn't -- it was kind of like she wasn't allowed to, like, talk to anybody anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: And we should note, Anderson, that South Milwaukee Police did talk to that ex-girlfriend. She was completely cooperative. And according to a source, she said she had no idea that something like this was coming.
COOPER: All right, Ted, appreciate that reporting.
Local law enforcement was first on the scene obviously yesterday. A highly distinguished member of the force is in the hospital as we mentioned. Badly wounded tonight.
In the past 36 hours or so, Oak Creek's police chief has presided over a crisis, launched an investigation, comforted victims and been the public face of this tragedy. He's joining me now.
Police Chief John Edwards, appreciate you being with us.
First of all, how is -- how is your officer tonight?
EDWARDS: I was just up, I visited with him a short time ago. He's doing much better. He's alert. Can't speak right now. He's -- he can give a thumb's up. Smile.
COOPER: He was shot numerous times.
EDWARDS: He was shot nine times.
COOPER: Nine times.
EDWARDS: Nine times. Most of them are extremely shots. One serious wound. Not going to get into the dynamics of that. But he's got a long road ahead of him to heal. But we're very hopeful and looks very promising that that's going to happen.
COOPER: Where -- as far as you're concerned, where does this investigation stand? What are you looking for?
EDWARDS: We're starting to tighten it up. The FBI, along with our detectives, we're working together and we've moved that command post down to the FBI headquarters. They're following up and cross- checking a lot of leads, we're getting leads upon leads. We're cross- checking phone numbers. Records. Everything we can to see if there's any ties. We want to leave no stone unturned.
I know there's been a lot of talk about using the white supremacist. I know there's a lot of information out there. Very -- I don't want to use that term until we want to put that out there for sure because that's not something I can take back.
EDWARDS: When we put that term out there, you don't use that lightly. So we want to make sure that we have everything in place before we use that. Is it a possibility? Yes, it is. And it might be something else. But I won't confirm that that's what's going on. We have to check everything.
COOPER: Sure. The -- earlier in the day, there had been talk about a possible person of interest. It seems like that person has been eliminated, having been talked to.
Are you confident this person worked alone, or is that still something you're investigating?
EDWARDS: As far as the person of interest, they have been identified and they are still being followed up with as far as statements and seeing what they have to offer.
EDWARDS: I can't say that they've been eliminated. They're still being talked to. As far as our indications, this individual was by himself. We have nothing else to indicate that he's with anybody else or anything was going on. That's what we have right now, indication from witnesses that we had at the scene, the officers at the scene, indication that he was a lone shooter it.
COOPER: You know, I mean, are you any closer to understanding motive at this point or is that still very open?
EDWARDS: It's still open. That's where -- we're starting to eliminate more things and start to narrow down what it might be. There's still quite a few things that we have to eliminate before we can say what the motive was. COOPER: Have there been other incidences against the Sikh community to your knowledge?
EDWARDS: No, not here. We've partnered with them. They're a friend of our community. We work with them. We don't have issues with them. We've never had any problems. No problems at all.
COOPER: And they've -- and as far as you know, they haven't had problems with people attacking them or incidents?
EDWARDS: No, no, we have -- no red flags, no complaints, no calls, anything like that.
COOPER: How long -- let me ask you, and you may not be able to answer this or may not know this at this point or may not be able to say, but is it your belief this person did not want to be taken?
EDWARDS: You know, all I can -- I don't want to fill in blanks without -- because we're going to have video. We have a lot of video at that scene that's going to be looked at.
COOPER: There's videos actually outside...
EDWARDS: Yes. Something at the temple that have been recovered.
EDWARDS: That's going to give us some good explanation of what happened. But by the actions that our officers have said, he didn't flee. So he engaged the officers.
COOPER: Well, listen, our best to the officer who's been injured and his family and thank you very much for talking to us.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
COOPER: I know it's been a long 24 hours. Thank you very much. Chief John Edwards.
So let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will Instagram. I will be tweeting tonight.
Up next: the victims, the lives cut short in this tragedy, the people who should be remembered. We're going to speak with the wife and son of this man, the president of the temple. Relatives say he fought to the very end and died trying to take down the gunman.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. What we know so far about the man who allegedly caused this tragedy paints a disturbing picture of an alleged neo-Nazi skinhead involved in the white supremacist movement, a former military man who used music to disseminate a message of hate.
This photo of the suspect in front of a swastika is from a Facebook page that's since been taken down. What we know right now is that this man was once in the house but was discharged in 1998. Even during his time in the military, a former house buddy says that he would talk about a racial holy war. Later, the suspect would become the front man for a racist band called the End Apathy, a band whose recordings on neo-Nazi Web site.
According to Southern Poverty Law Center, back in 2000, the suspect tried to buy some sort of products from the Neo-Nazi National Alliance which the center says was at the time the country's most important hate group.
Drew Griffin joins me now live with the latest on what he has been able to find out.
Drew, what have you been learning?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, this guy was really out front in this white power music industry. You'd almost call him a mini celebrity. He was involved with some of the bigger bands in the year 2000 up to 2005.
And that's when he started his own band, End Apathy. They played at major -- I say that somewhat facetiously, major festivals of these white hate groups like the Hammerskins and some of these other groups. Venues where they would all get together. A group of bands and play their hate-filled music.
Devin Burghart is an author who also tracks these hate groups. And he looks at this industry as not only a multimillion-dollar industry with hundreds of bands, Anderson, but as a major outreach now for this white power movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEVIN BURGHART, AUTHOR: These bands are known for their recruiting and for bringing young people into the movement. They play festivals, shows and gigs around the country which are specifically designed to bring in new young people and indoctrinate them into the white nationalist movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: And he was very much a part of that, he being the suspect, this fellow, Page. We know that -- from his Web site, he talked openly about, you know, major accomplishments in his life, Anderson. And one of his major accomplishments was starting this band, End Apathy.
COOPER: I remember doing some reporting on neo-Nazi white supremacist bands in the United States back in the late '90s and I actually spent some time with some of these bands and band members. There was a culture of violence within these groups at these shows. Was he himself, the suspect, violent?
GRIFFIN: You know, the groups that have been tracking him, you mentioned Southern Poverty Law Center, also the Anti-Defamation League, really had not seen him attached to violence other than his hate-filled lyrics. He really doesn't have a major criminal record whatsoever. That's why he was able to pick up that gun that Ted Rowlands was talking about, drunk driving back in Colorado, a minor mischief thing back in Texas, but nothing violent.
And we do know he took his lyrics very seriously. He gave an interview to his -- quote, unquote -- "record label" back in 2010. And this is what he said about writing his lyrics.
He said, "The topics vary from sociological issues, religion, and how the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to."
Anderson, if you spent time with these guys, you know what they're all about. They don't like the -- what they call the delusion or the dilution of the white race. They hate Jews, they hate usually blacks, Muslims, anybody who doesn't fit into their mold. And since the national alliance that you talked about basically has collapsed under law enforcement pressure, it's this white power music that has become really the focal point of this kind of hate group.
COOPER: And, Drew, obviously, there's a lot we still don't know at this point. Is it known if he was currently with any particular group or was he kind of a lone wolf? I mean, do we have any evidence either way?
GRIFFIN: You know, the last reference I can find to End Apathy was that 2010 interview that I quoted from his record label. The record that they recorded for that label was still being sold on that Web site. Although the Web site has taken down. But I can't see them appearing anywhere. I think they appeared at a festival back in 2011. It was the St. Patrick's Day festival down in Florida.
That's the last time I saw them, you know, being anywhere and playing. So I really don't know the answer to that. Ted also talked about how the FBI was looking at his former band mate's home back in North Carolina. Gives you some indication that this group, if it was indeed a group, maybe has split or has taken some kind of a hiatus.
COOPER: Yes, it will be interesting to see. I mean, I stopped following sort of white power music bag as a reporter back in the late '90s. There was a group at the time called Revolution Records which have kind of tried to put a very slick and glossy veneer on a lot of these white power bands but I'm not sure if they are still in existence or sure of what the status of this part of the subculture is.
But as you said, that group, the national alliance, they've really -- which at one point powerful within the white supremacist movement in the United States. They've really gone by the wayside, right?
GRIFFIN: That's right.
And these groups nowadays, because law enforcement is so good at rooting them out and basically knocking them out, you'll see a lot of these hate group, like I mentioned the Hammerskins, they say they are leaderless. That they are a leaderless organization.
There's a reason for that. Nobody wants to be the leaders of these groups because they become the target of law enforcement investigations.
And that's why these festivals that take place, these music festivals that take place, are very secretive. They will advertise, we're going to have a festival in such and such a town. Go there on such and such a date. And in the morning, you can call this number and we'll tell you where it is.
And a lot of times, you'll see on various Web sites photos of these festivals. And all the pictures of the people are blurred out, which is why it's so interesting we have these out front pictures of Wade Page in his Nazi flags and Nazi regalia so open.
I really believe -- although we can't ask him now because he's dead, I really believe he believed him to be somewhat of a celebrity in this -- in this movement, industry, whatever you want to call it. But, again, it's all centered around white power music, which if you haven't listened to it, take the worst punk rock, head banging music you can find, put some really nasty, hate-filled music, lyrics to it, and basically that's what you have. It all sounds the same.
COOPER: Yes. Sounds like he had delusions of grandeur on some level.
Drew, appreciate the reporting. T.J. Leyden, a former -- Leyden, excuse me, is a former skinhead, he's the author of "Skinhead Confessions, From Hate to Hope." T.J. joins me now on the phone.
T.J., appreciate your being with us. This suspect was in a band in the thick at one point of the white supremacist music scene. Explain the importance of music as a tool in recruitment.
T.J. LEYDEN, AUTHOR, "SKINHEAD CONFESSIONS": It's a major tool in the recruitment field. You think about if I give a kid a piece of paper to read, he might read it once, maybe twice max. But if I give him a music CD, he'll listen to that thing hundreds and hundreds of times. And that song gets stuck in his head, that's propaganda that you cannot get rid of.
COOPER: And that's who the target of a lot of the music is, it's kids?
LEYDEN: It is. There's a thing a few years back called Project Schoolyard. They were going after kids who were in junior high, high school. I mean, even one guy a few years back said he wouldn't have a problem going after kids as young as 8 or 9.
COOPER: The alleged shooter had a lot of tattoos. You say they're very important in white supremacist culture. How so?
LEYDEN: Yes. Well, tattoos are everything in the white supremacist culture. I mean, I looked at one of his tattoos online. He had the word 14, which is an acronym for white supremacy logos. So that...
COOPER: Also, 88, I have seen has some significance.
LEYDEN: Yes, 88 is their "Heil Hitler," the eighth letter of the alphabet being H., eight.
COOPER: And you say acting as a lone wolf is a tactic in the modern day supremacist movement.
LEYDEN: It is. A lone wolf tactic has been around for a while. There's actually a point system for the lone wolf. And they love to use that tactic because it eliminates anybody else getting in trouble. So a larger group of people won't go to prison or go to jail.
COOPER: I'm also curious, T.J., about your personal story, and how you were able to go from at one point, you know, believing these hate-filled messages and to a point where you now are actively working against it. Can you explain a little bit about how you got out of it?
LEYDEN: OK, I'm sorry, can you repeat that?
COOPER: Yes, I'm curious about how you basically changed your mind. I mean, you were once involved in the white supremacist movement. You were a skinhead, you believed these things, and you evolved. How did you change your mind?
LEYDEN: For me, I was lucky. My kid showed me that my hatred was infecting them at a very young age. And I saw how it was affecting my family and my youngest children.
For me, I got lucky. What I do now is I work with people all over the United States. Actually throughout the world now. Helping them realize how to get out. But for me it was mostly my family. My kids. If it wasn't for them, I would probably be in prison for the rest of my life.
COOPER: We don't know what the suspect knew about this temple. We don't even know if he had any idea of who the people were that were trying to kill. I mean, do these people in this movement actually study this? Do they actually study different religions? Do they actually, you know -- do they have a basis of what they're spouting?
LEYDEN: Well, for them, religion is their skin color. They probably had no idea that the Sikhs -- what they -- he may have thought it was -- he saw the word temple. He may have thought it was a Jewish institution. He may have thought it was a Muslim mosque. I don't think that he may have thought that through. I mean, we'll never know exactly because he's dead. But no, I mean, to them race is a religion. They very rarely have anything to do with any formal religion. Or do they study it. COOPER: T.J., I appreciate you being on with us tonight. And there's obviously still a lot we don't know at this hour. But we're trying to learn as much as we can.
I appreciate you talking to us.
When we come back, we're going to honor the victims and the survivors and remember the lives they lived, not just how they ended their lives.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: The police officers dispatched to the shooting rampage at a Sikh temple say they were doing their jobs. But they are being called heroes tonight for stopping the shooter before he killed more people -- what the officers faced when they got to the scene when we continue.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Seven people died in Oak Creek including the gunman. Six lives are worth remembering tonight.
In a moment you'll hear a son and his mother talk about the man they so deeply loved and respected. He was Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the temple, or gurdwara, as it's called. He was mortally wounded after struggling with the killer, trying to slow the killer down, buying time for others to flee or to hide. Satwant Singh Kaleka was 65 years old.
Suveg Singh was 84, the oldest victim. His granddaughter says his attended temple daily. He spoke only Punjabi, so the temple was a place to find people to talk to, and relatives say he loved to talk.
We don't yet know much about three other victims. We at this point only know their names and ages. Sita and Ranjit Singh, ages 41 and 49. And Parmijit Kaur, the only woman killed. She was just 41 years old.
Prakash Singh, age 39, served as a priest at the temple. According to "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel," in June, he returned from India to bring his wife and two children back to Oak Creed to live. He was known as a quiet guy, peaceful person and as a friend and noble soul.
So many people we need to learn about and we hope in the week ahead to learn more about them. As I mentioned, I spoke earlier tonight and spent some time with the temple president's wife, Satpal, and his son, Amardeep.
COOPER (voice-over): Outside the home of Satwant Singh Kaleka, an American flag flies at half-staff. His son, Amardeep, and wife, Satpal, are still trying to make sense of what happened.
(on camera) What do you now know happened to your father?
AMARDEEP KALEKA, SON OF TEMPLE PRESIDENT: I have people that I used to work with that called me to tell me that what he did in that temple, in that gurdwara that day, saved so many lives and saved so many people.
COOPER: You were told he tried to stop the gunman?
A. KALEKA: Yes. I was told by several FBI agents that the blood trails and the evidence that are inside, it's blood evidence that shows a battle had ensued. And that the knife next to his body that has blood on it. And blood trails leading to wherever that battle of blood was, one towards the kitchen, one towards the bedroom of my dad laid to rest.
SATPAL KALEKA, WIFE OF TEMPLE PRESIDENT: Since I start closing the door, my kitchen door. Meantime, he came in the kitchen. He shot over there. Then two ladies got shot in the leg. Like on the feet. Then I grabbed everybody, say run, run, run to the pantry. Then after one minute, we saw his -- he shot on the other side.
COOPER: There were more shots?
S. KALEKA: More shots. Big, big shots. Then it's like four, five minutes after that, shots again.
COOPER: So it went on for some time.
S. KALEKA: Yes, it went on for some time. Then after that, it was quiet.
A. KALEKA: There's another story, I think. That flag outside, my dad put that flag outside when we first bought a house, our first house. You know, we lived in little apartments. We were pretty poor. Then this was our first house.
COOPER: And that's one of the first things he did?
A. KALEKA: One of the first things he did. We came home from high school, and we were laughing. Like, "Dad, that's going to be an eyesore. You have an elementary-school-sized flag in your front yard."
COOPER: Why was that so important to him?
A. KALEKA: So he says to us, he said, "Look down the street. Do you see any other American flags?"
And I go, "No."
And he goes, "Our house, because it's our house and because we came here and it's been a land of opportunity for us..."
S. KALEKA: So in order to know that we are close to the American friends, you know?
A. KALEKA: And a form of protection.
COOPER: A form of protection?
A. KALEKA: He said it, he goes, "Look, I don't want anybody doing anything to our house. So as a form of protection, we'll put the flag up."
But also, to me, personally, his life was like this. He lived the American dream. When you talk about somebody who came over with a couple hundred dollars in their pocket and worked 18 hours a day as an immigrant -- and we were all immigrants. We all immigrated together in '82. I mean, we watched him. We were five years old going to the gas station with him. And watching him work in some of the worst neighborhoods.
Here's what I would love for them to know. I would love for them to know that he lived his life with the principles that he knew and he was taught at a young age. And it made him highly successful in America. Like, if you do the hard work, if you live by truth and honesty, and tell people your feelings and you are open to communication, you socialize and do all these things, it's going to lead to a good life.
He has beautiful children. He has beautiful grandchildren. He has a great wife that will sit by him, with him through anything, through thick and thin. His community loves him. Hundreds of people will show up at his funeral. And that's a good life.
I guess the one message to get across simply is that, as an American society who is a steward for the whole world, we have to understand every culture that we touch. And Sikhs are not a small culture. They're like the fifth largest religion in the world.
So for somebody not to know the difference or not to understand our culture and convey peace and tranquility back to us when we do it to them, you know, it's amazing to think that can still happen in today's world.
COOPER: So you hope that these people come to understand Sikhs more and understand their contributions and understand who you are?
A. KALEKA: And I'll take it one step further. I hope the American society lets go of its criminal violence and violence in America and its hatred, and this amazingly repugnant descent as a human civilization into this archaic world. I hope that we can traverse and come up and become more civilized.
COOPER: The family of one of the six people killed inside that temple.
I've gotten a couple -- by the way, a couple of tweets from people, saying that we should let people grieve in peace and not be bothering them for interviews. And I absolutely agree with that. I know what it's like to have cameras pointed in your face when you're grieving, and it's not a pleasant thing. We only go where we're asked. And many family members want you to know about their loved one whose life was cut short. They want you to know their story. They want you to know who they were. They don't want you to just know the name. They want you to know how they lived their life, not just how they died. So we go where we're invited. And I frankly feel privileged to be invited into their home today to be able to tell you a little bit about one of the people who died yesterday.
A fundraising Web site has been set up to help the families of the less fortunate victims of the temple shooting. To donate you can go to a Web site called WeAreSikhs.com. We are Sikhs, S-I-K-H-S, dot come. WeAreSikhs.com, one word. You can also donate at the local Tri-City National Bank here in Oak Creek. For information, you call the bank at 414-761-1610. That's 414-761-1610. We'll put that on our Web site, AC360.com.
Coming up, the 911 recordings and what they reveal about the heroic police officer who's recovering from gunshot wounds tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance up. Subject down, officer's down. I need an ambulance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one officer shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're going to have more on the shooting here in Oak Creek in just a minute. But there's major news elsewhere tonight. Fierce fighting to tell you about in Syria. I want to give you an update on that. The country's prime minister becomes the highest profile official to leave the country. Is he a defector? Was he dismissed? Depends who you ask. We'll find out when we continue.
COOPER: The Sikh community here in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is facing difficult days ahead, filled with grief and vigils and funerals. Six members of their temple shot dead on a summer Sunday.
As we told you, the details of the rampage there are horrific. But amid the terror and the chaos, there were also heroic acts that no doubt kept the death toll from being higher. Among those being called heroes, the police officers who responded so quickly, and in one dramatic example, so selflessly. Here's Randi Kaye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Squad, I'm taking report of an altercation Sikh temple, 7512 South Howell. There's a lot of noise. I'm unable to get much info. But there's a fight and now it's... RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Minutes after the suspect opened fire, Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy was on the scene, the first officer to arrive. He immediately began tending to one of the victims on the ground in the parking lot. But before he knew it, the suspected shooter ambushed him.
CHIEF JOHN EDWARDS, OAK CREEK POLICE: The individual walked around either the front of the squad or that area and just was right on top of him. So he was kind of down, in a fashion, down, and he took rounds from a person standing up.
KAYE: Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards says Lieutenant Murphy was shot eight or nine times. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, but a bullet hit him near the neck and throat. Luckily, most of the bullets passed through him, hitting only flesh, no critical arteries.
(on camera) While Officer Murphy lay bleeding the other officers tried to secure the scene, unaware one of their own had been shot. At one point, the officers tried to reach Lieutenant Murphy on the radio, telling him they heard gun shots, asking him to confirm. They heard nothing back.
(voice-over) In his 21 years on the force, Lieutenant Murphy had never been shot before. The 51-year-old officer was recently married and has two stepchildren. He also has a daughter who lives in Korea, so it took some time to notify her about what happened.
With the suspect still firing but in sight, other officers pulled out their rifles and took the fight to him, just as the chief says they're trained to do. The suspect shot out a patrol car windshield but after that was shot and killed by one of the officers.
(on camera) The officer who took the suspect down is also a family man with a daughter. He's a trained marksman, similar to a sniper in the military. He's a 31-year veteran of the force who teaches his sniper skills at both the U.S. State Department and the FBI.
(voice-over) The suspect was dead. But where was Lieutenant Murphy? His fellow officers weren't sure. So they did what they call a par check, calling out individual badge numbers over the radio to make sure each officer is OK.
EDWARDS: In this case, they went through everybody, and they got responses. When they didn't get a response from Lieutenant Murphy, who's badge number 62, they called for him. They said, "6-2, par check," and the code number's times. Then an officer said, "We don't have one from 6-2. We need to find him.":
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance up, suspect down, officer's down! I need ambulance...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one officer shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Franklin dispatch, all squad, 7512 South Howell avenue. Subject with a gun, balding, white T-shirt, officer down.
KAYE (on camera): When they did find lieutenant Murphy, he waved them off. The chief says Murphy was able to speak and told the others, quote, "Leave me alone." He wanted the other officers to hurry up inside to save the other victims.
MAYOR STEPHEN SCAFFIDI, OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN: There's no doubt in my mind that the heroic actions of our police officers prevented an even greater tragedy.
COOPER: That's remarkable, that he told police to go and deal with other people, to leave him alone. We talked to the police chief a little bit earlier tonight. He said he's -- he's doing OK. He kind of waved. What else are you hearing?
KAYE: He's not talking, but he's much more stable. Yesterday, he was critical. He had a couple of surgeries -- this is Lieutenant Brian Murphy. He had a couple of surgeries late yesterday. Then another surgery at 2:30 this morning that he was called in for.
But his family's by his side. He seems alert. He's aware. The fellow officers were there till about 4 a.m. this morning. Just showing -- letting him know that they're there and thinking about him and supporting him.
COOPER: The other thing the police chief said, which I hadn't thought about, of course, made sense, that there are actually cameras outside, surveillance cameras. And so there's actually going to be video that we'll -- we'll be able to see exactly what happened. And how this guy ended up -- how the suspect ended up getting shot.
KAYE: Yes. And that's going to be critical. Because if they can see what happened. Because we understand from the chief, that the officer who did shoot him, the second officer who took him down. They were all yelling to him to put his weapon down. They were warning him. They were giving him commands, which they say he ignored.
KAYE: And then he ended up firing on them, shooting out that one windshield of the police car, and then they took him down. So it will be interesting to see what that video shows, if that covers that angle or not.
COOPER: Yes. Randi, appreciate the reporting on this day (ph), as well.
The president of the temple, as we said, who was fatally shot in the attack, had recently met with a state lawmaker to talk about an increase in violence against Sikhs. I'll speak with that lawmaker next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: As we mentioned earlier, among the victims of this tragic shooting was the president of the temple, Satwant Singh Kaleka. He became president of the temple in 1996, and according to his family members, fought for it every single day since. He was often the first one there. He was dedicated to it.
His nephew told us that his uncle was continuing that fight right up until his last breath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANWARDEEP SINGH KALEKA, NEPHEW OF TEMPLE PRESIDENT: He tried to tackle the gunman and, you know, in the process, suffered the fatal gunshot wound. But he really did everything he could. I believe that to my very core.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wisconsin State Representative Josh Zepnik was friends with the president of the temple. Many members of the Milwaukee Sikh community are among his constituents. Representative Zepnik joins me now live.
You'd actually talked with the temple president about concerns about violence against Sikhs. Not just here but also nationwide.
JOSH ZEPNIK, WISCONSIN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: It is a very difficult time right now, Anderson. Mr. Kaleka was a great friend, a person with a gentle soul, a generous heart.
There have been a number of cases where people have -- in the Sikh community have reached out to law enforcement, to public officials, because of what they felt would be things that -- actions or wrongdoings or whatnot because of their appearance. Where they felt like they were a target.
In some cases, gas-station owners or taxicab drivers are dealing with people in a tough neighborhood. So you've got that element as well. And it's...
COOPER: Mr. Kaleka had been at one point pistol-whipped years ago when he was at a gas station working there. I was talking to his son who said many people in the Sikh community don't even report what he described as minor instances but which are still very horrible of people saying things to them, you know, passing them in the car, flipping them off or whatever.
ZEPNIK: Sure, robberies at gas stations. You know, we had a rioting and looting situation last year, the Fourth of July, where a Sikh Indian gas station owners and stores were attacked.
I've been to several funerals myself of young men who were killed while they were working at the middle of the night at a 24-hour gas station.
And unfortunately, you know, in today's tough times, what I would say, we live in this culture where violence is glorified and, unfortunately, is way too common. People who look different or whatnot become the target of racial or ethnic hatred. In the case of Sikh Indians, because of the -- especially the men with longer beards and wearing the turban, people mistakenly confuse with what they see on television and whatnot, in terms of radical Islam. And it's very sad.
COOPER: That's one of the things that Amardeep, Mr. Kaleka's son, was saying that he hopes -- not that anything really good can come out of this, but that he hopes that, you know, people kind of, A, learn more about -- about Sikhs in the United States, and also just kind of have more understanding of one another. Whether it's Sikh or Muslim or whatever the religion.
ZEPNIK: And frankly, with as broad as that stroke is, that is exactly how we're going to have to move forward and rebuild. Because we're going to have a lot of outreach to do to educate folks in the Milwaukee area, as well as the entire country about the positive contributions of the Sikh community.
They're a very peaceful and nonviolent religion. A lot of them coming to the United States to escape violence and oppression. And I say, you know, much like many others have been in the last 24-plus hours, today we are all American Sikhs.
And if people would learn more about the many positive contributions, hard-working people, tight, extended families. Very involved in the community. Helping those who are less fortunate in their own area, as well as people who are different from them and wanting to understand other faiths.
COOPER: I know -- you know, it does sound sort of "Kumbaya," but I really do believe diversity is our strength as a nation. And there's a report now that a mosque in Joplin has been burned for the second time. And this attack yesterday. And...
ZEPNIK: Very disturbing. It's really -- this is not the America that I know or want. And...
COOPER: And to go to Mr. Kaleka's house today. And, you know, the American flag is one of the first things he put outside his house when he was able to afford that house. And he did it both as protection but also as he wanted to be part of that American dream.
ZEPNIK: Huge amount of pride to be here in America and to be positive contributors and to be part of the diverse American fabric you talked about.
We all come from different religious and racial backgrounds, economic backgrounds. It doesn't surprise me that, as sad and tragic as it is, that he spent his final seconds and minutes in life...
COOPER: Trying to stop it.
ZEPNIK: ... trying to stop this and trying to protect his congregation. That is exactly the kind of human being that he was. And if we all could learn more from Mr. Kaleka, we would be better Americans and we'd have a safer and better society.
COOPER: His son just said the funerals are going to be on Friday?
COOPER: For the six people?
COOPER: There are some needs for some of the families to raise money for funerals and the like. There's a Web site, WeAreAllSikhs.com, I think it is.
COOPER: We're going to put it on our Web site. There's also a local bank. But WeAreAllSikhs.com.
Thank you so much for talking to us, Representative Zepnik. Thanks very much.
There's more we're following tonight. Isha joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."
ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, Syria's prime minister is now the highest-profile official to leave the Bashar al-Assad embattled regime. Opposition leaders said he defected, while Syrian state television says he was dismissed.
Meanwhile, fighting rages across Syria. This video purportedly shows a bomb falling on a residential neighborhood in Homs. Opposition activists said at least 161 people were killed across the country today.
As Anderson mentioned, a mosque has burned to the ground in Joplin, Missouri. It was the second fire this summer at the site. Worshippers suspect arson. They're calling it a hate crime, but investigators haven't determined the cause.
Three parking-lot attendants at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Annex in Virginia are accused of stealing $400,000 over three years. Drivers are charged $15 an hour with most of the proceeds expected to go to the museum.
And mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab burst into cheers as the Mars rover Curiosity nailed its landing on the red planet. Anderson, an incredibly complex feat of engineering.
COOPER: Isha, thanks, we'll be right back.
COOPER: That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.