OAK CREEK, Wis. – Thousands on Friday mourned the six victims gunned down at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, after members worked late the previous night to remove all but the one trace of the shooting hole to mark the memory of a white supremacist's deadly rampage.
The waist-high bullet hole in a door jamb near the main prayer room was left as a memorial to the six slain worshippers.
“We will put a plaque here,” Harpreet Singh, the nephew of one of the victims, said Friday. “We will make sure they are never forgotten.”
Members showed The Associated Press the small hole during an exclusive tour of the temple. While most other physical reminders of the horror have been scrubbed or painted away, temple members said they could still feel the spirits of those who died.
As Singh showed the AP the bedrooms where his uncle and a priest were killed, he frequently paused with his hands on his hips and looked around in silence.
Army veteran Wade Michael Page used a 9 mm pistol Sunday to kill five men, one woman and wound three other people, including a police officer, in the ambush on the temple.
He took his own life after exchanging gunfire with officers, including one he shot nine times.
The carnage could have been much worse, Singh said. At the first sound of gunfire outside, two children raced into the kitchen and warned people to take cover. Thirteen women were there preparing meals for the day, crammed into a pantry with a man and the two children.
The pantry, a side room off the main kitchen, has only enough standing room for about three or four people comfortably.
But the 16 waited in petrified silence for almost two hours, doing their best to ignore the smoke wafting throughout the room from food burning on the stove.
Page's view of the pantry was probably blocked by the large refrigerator near its entrance, Singh said.
“Otherwise who knows what would have happened,” he said.