Sikh Temple Shooting Victim Died After Rushing Gunman
Temple president's final act was one of heroism. Other victims remembered as loving, with kind words before services, and dedicated to their spiritual community.
Satwant Singh Kaleka’s final action at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was one of heroism.
When Wade Michael Page, the suspected gunman in Sunday’s tragic shooting, opened fire, the 65-year-old temple president rushed to stop him — possibly preventing more deaths.
“He was trying his best to give time for people to get to security,” said his son, Amardeep Kaleka, during a news conference at the Salvation Army in Oak Creek Monday.
Satwant Kaleka was one of six Sikhs killed Sunday morning, when Page began shooting.
Also killed on Sunday were: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; and Suveg Singh, 84. Three others were critically injured in the attack, including Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot multiple times as he went to help victims.
But Satwant Kaleka was no stranger to violence. The family fled northern India after martial law was declared against the Sikhs, according to his son.
It was in America that Satwant Kaleka was hit over the head while taking out the trash one evening at the gas station where he worked.
“He worked his behind off, 18 hours a day, in some of the worst neighborhoods you have ever seen,” said Amardeep Kaleka.
Becoming a successful businessman, Satwant Kaleka pushed for the American dream. When the family bought their first house, Satwant Kaleka installed “the largest American flag” in the front yard to demonstrate that they were now Americans.
- The latest update: Police say gunman acted alone
- Hero cop: Ambushed officer refused aid to help others
- Sikh reaction: Religious leader is praying for gunman
- Wisconsin weeps: Victims part of a peaceful family
- Sikh community unites: 'We are in utter shock'
- Video: Images from outside the temple on day of the shooting
- Photo gallery: Oak Creek in the aftermath
Shauna Singh Baldwin, a Milwaukee woman who is part of the Sikh community, served as a translator for some of the older members of the temple after Sunday's shooting.
She told Patch that Satwant Kaleka invested his own money in the temple, helping to bring it to Oak Creek in 2007.
"Kaleka was a role model in the community," Baldwin said. "He never gave up, and he was a very quiet worker."
Suveg Singh gave blessings before services
Suveg Singh came early to temple services, said Inderjeet Singh, secretary at the temple. He would sit there and speak with others.
"He always give me a blessing: 'God bless you, be happy and prosperous.' I am going to miss him just so much," said Inderjeet Singh, who is not related to Suveg Singh.
The Journal Sentinel spoke to Suveg Singh's family members, and reported that his daughter-in-law, Kulwant Kaur had taken him to temple Sunday morning. She hid in the kitchen pantry during the attack, and as reported on jsonline.com,saw her father-in-law on the floor, bleeding, as she left the temple.
"He loved to come to the temple and talk to people. He speaks only Punjab. He's a nice father," Khattra's son, Baljander Singh Khattra, told the Journal Sentinel.
Priest Prakash Singh was servant-leader
Prakash Singh, 39, one of the temple priests, came here from India nine years ago. His wife and three children remained behind. After years of separating, they finally arrived just over a month ago.
"He was very happy," said Inderjeet Singh. "He prayed and he said 'Thank God my family is here, my kids are here. God listened to me. After nine years, everything is OK, I am so glad my family is here.'"
Inderjeet Singh is not related to Prakash Singh, who he described as a "servant-leader," saying the priest would work in the kitchen, bring dinner plates to elderly congregation members and who would make a cup of tea for temple meetings.
"He was a very religious guy, a very honest person," said Inderjeet Singh. "He was always focused to dedicate every day (to) his job."
The Journal Sentinel reported that he was preparing to move from the temple into an apartment with his family.
Ranjit Singh was musician and priest
Kulwant Singh was at the Brookfield Sikh temple on Monday morning. He told Patch that Ranjit Singh was a priest who played the drums at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek every Sunday and worked Sunday nights at a Shell gas station at 35th and Vliet streets in Milwaukee. Kulwant Singh lives next to the Brookfield temple on Calhoun Road, and said he formerly worked with Ranjit Singh.
"He was a nice guy. I feel very sorry for him and his family," Kulwant Singh said. "He died for no reason."
Ranjit Singh is married with children, Kulwant Singh said, but moved to the United States from India about 15 years ago, leaving his family behind with plans for them to someday join him in Wisconsin.
Paramjit Kaur was a mother
Baldwin, the translator who helped the congregation speak with police on Sunday, also told Patch that she spoke to a man, whose name she didn’t know, whose wife, Paramjit, was shot to death.
“I knew they had children and I asked them where they were,” Baldwin said. “He told me they were at home.”
Patch editors Heather Asiyanbi, Lisa Sink and Denise Lockwood contributed to this report.