The son of the president of the Sikh temple where six people were killed by a gunman urged Americans to better understand his culture on Monday — and said his community is "at a breaking point in some ways."
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Amardeep Kaleka, whose father, Satwant Kaleka, was killed in the suburban Milwaukee rampage, told TODAY's Matt Lauer about how he learned of the shooting.Video: Victim’s son: Sikh community ‘shook up’ after shooting (on this page)
Kaleka had received a call from his brother when his dad’s cell phone started ringing. Though he hoped it was his father calling, it was the temple’s priest, asking why they hadn’t sent over help.
“Where are the ambulances? Why aren’t the ambulances here?” the priest kept saying.Video: Army veteran suspected in Sikh temple shooting (on this page)
When he asked about his father, the priest told Kaleka his dad lay at his feet, “lying on the ground, bleeding from his back … so bad it was unstoppable.”
Kaleka’s father was one of the temple’s founding members. His mother, who was inside the temple, survived.
The suspected gunman, identified as Wade Michael Page, was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers.Alleged gunman in Sikh temple shooting ID'd as Army vet
Temple members in Oak Creek are trying to make sense of the attack, Kaleka said.
“We’re very shook up right now," he told Lauer. "It's hard to put into words all that's happened in the past 14, 16 hours. We're at a breaking point, in some ways."
Kaleka said there’s a widespread misunderstanding about the Sikh community. While many trying to explain the culture often do it by saying that people shouldn’t confuse Sikhs with Muslims, Kaleka said he didn’t want to be that simplistic because “it’s culturally insensitive.”Slideshow: Gunman opens fire at Sikh temple in Wisconsin (on this page)
“We, as Americans, are a melting pot of so many cultures,” he said. “We have to understand each other's cultures, whether they be Italian, Polish, German, or they be Far East Chinese or Bangladeshi. We have to understand the nuances because we live together. We rub elbows right next to each other.”
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