Holder: Sikh Temple Shooting ‘An Act of Terrorism’

August 10, 2012 - 1:15 PM

Sikh Temple Shooting

Sikh temple members bring in a casket for the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wis., Friday, Aug 10, 2012. The public service was held in the Oak Creek High School. Three other people were wounded in the shooting last Sunday at the temple. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, speaking at the Sikh Temple shooting memorial service in Oak Creek, Wis., on Friday, called the tragedy “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred,” and “a hate crime that is anathema to the founding principles of our nation and to who we are as an American people.”

The gunman, identified as Wade Michael Page, shot nine people at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin – killing six and injuring three others. Page, a suspected white Supremacist, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

“For our nation’s law enforcement community, our resolve to prevent acts of terrorism and to combat crimes motivated by hatred has never been stronger, and that is precisely what happened here – an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime that is anathema to the founding principles of our nation and to who we are as an American people,” he said.

Holder said that the Sikh community has been the victims of “this sort of violence” far too often. “In the recent past, too many Sikhs have been targeted and victimized simply because of who they are, how they look and what they believe. That is wrong. It is unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated,” he said.

“We must ask necessary questions of ourselves: What kind of nation do we truly want to have? We must have the courage to demand more of those who lead us, and just as importantly, of ourselves. What will we do to prevent that which has brought us here today from occurring in the future?” Holder asked.

The attorney general also questioned whether there was a need to “change our laws” to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

“We should sensibly discuss if there is a need for change our laws and we should certainly discuss how we might change the hearts of those so filled with hate that the despicable act that we mourn today could ever have occurred,” he said.

“The very worst of humankind” was displayed by the gunman’s actions, Holder said. However, “the very best” of humankind was exemplified through the actions of the officers who responded to the shooting, specifically, Lt. Brian Murphy.

Murphy was shot nine times while coming to the aid of others, Holder said, “and when his fellow police officers arrived at the scene and offered to help him, he selflessly waived them off, ordering that they tend to the victims inside” first.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of support,” from the local community and statewide, he said, “from Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders and from countless Americans nationwide who are truly heartbroken by what happened here on Sunday. That’s because Sunday’s attack is not just an affront to the values of Sikhism. It was an attack on the values of America itself.”