Slain Wis. Sikh Priests Served in San Jose

The vigils will be held on Wednesday and Sunday in San Jose

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    Sikhs in San Jose and Fremont hold candlelight vigils following the temple shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, where six worshipers were killed. George Kitiyama reports.

    Sikh communities all over the country have been holding vigils and events in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Wisconsin over the weekend, where a gunman killed six worshipers at their temple, before killing himself.

    In the Bay Area, the connections run deep. Two of the people killed at the Oak Creek temple in Milwaukee, Wisc. had once been priests in San Jose; the temple president killed there is a relative of a San Jose family; and one of the victims critically injured had also conducted religious duties in San Jose.

    Vigils will be held Wednesday at Fremont's Lake Elizabeth at 7:30 p.m., and the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib  at 3636 Murillo Ave. in San Jose at 8 p.m. Organizers expect between 1,000 to 2,000 to attend.

    Not only are they mourning the loss of lives, but they are also hoping to fundraise for the victims families.

    "We are very much saddened by the events in the Sikh gurdwara in Milwaukee, Wisc.," said Bob Dhillon, a lay leader at the San Jose temple. We are "further saddened that two raggis, or preachers, who died, and one in critical condition has preached at the San Jose gurdwara off and on for the past several years."

    A gurdwara literally means "gateway to the guru," and is a Sikh house of worship.

    Mohinder Singh Bajwa, the current priest at the San Jose temple, identified two of the slain Sikhs in Wisconsin as Jorawar Singh, who legal name is Sita Singh, and Prakash Singh, both of whom had preached in San Jose within the last five years. A third man, Santokh Singh, was shot during the Sunday shooting spree, and was listed in critical condition; he also served religious duties in San Jose.

    In addition, the Wisconsin-based temple president, Satwant Kaleka, 65, was a relative to a South Bay family who attends the San Jose temple.

    Specifically regarding Prakash Singh, Bajwa said he was "well-loved and respected," because not only would he preach, but help out in the kitchen too.

    "Anyone who needed help would get it from him," Bajwa said.

    As of Wednesday at a news conference, the FBI still hadn't determined a motive for why Wade Michael Page, 40, opened fire at the temple on Sunday - other than that The Southern Poverty Law Center pointed  out his white Supremacist and neo-Nazi ties.

    But the FBI did state that Page died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, after he was shot by police. The police lieutenant, Brian Murphy, who was shot eight or nine times while trying to protect worshippers, is now improving at the hospital.

    The other victims killed in the shooting were: Ranjit Singh, 49, Paramjit Kaur, 41, and Suveg Singh, 84.

    To learn more about the South Bay vigil and fundraising efforts.

    Damian Trujillo contributed to this report.

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or

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