OAK CREEK -- Five years ago on August 5, 2012, a lone gunman went into a sacred place of worship. He killed six people and injured four others before taking his own life. The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin along with the city of Oak Creek is using this weekend to remember those who lost their lives.
“Five years [ago] we had [a] shooting in [the] temple," Jatinder Signh Cheema said.
Cheema was inside the temple the day of the shooting. He and 16 others took shelter inside a small kitchen pantry. Their lives were spared, but a single bullet hole remains near a door hinge inside the scared place of worship. It's one of the many reminders of the August anguish felt five years ago felt by the Sikh community across the globe.
“It’s tough and today is a really emotional day," Simran Kaleka said. "But I know we honor them the best way we can."
Kaleka was just 24-years-old the day the gunman took her uncle's life along with the lives of five other people at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Kaleka said she too was on her way to the temple that day, but turned around because she had forgotten her phone at home.
“When I picked up my phone my friend called me," Kaleka recounts.
"She said ‘Hey your uncle’s been shot there’s a gunman in the gurdwara… and your entire family’s in there,'" she continued.
Kaleka said during that phone call fear is the only emotion she felt, but now five years later she and her family in faith are stronger than ever.
“[The gunman] tried to break us, but all it did was build us," Kaleka said.
The temple is now equipped with heightened security. The locks on the doors are more secure than they were five years ago, and an armed guard is staffed on weekends to protect a place of peace and its people who experienced so much pain just a few years ago.
The weekend's memorial ends Sunday with a community meal along with words from the victims' families.