New York/Washington: Men re-painted the walls of the gurdwara and cleaned its carpets, while women gathered again in the kitchen to prepare the communal meal.

Six days after a bloody tragedy shook Sikhs in Oak Creek, the gurdwara where Wade Michael Page had unleashed his hatred opened its gates again to the public and over 100 members of the community returned to clean the place of worship ahead of the funeral service for the victims.

The local police handed over the Oak Creek gurdwara to its management which immediately started the cleaning of the entire premises on Thursday.

"It is now open for the public," Jagajit Singh Sandhu, member of the temple committee said. "We expect the cleaning to be over soon, but it is open for the public now," Singh said.

Amardeep Kaleka, whose father Satwant Singh, was one of the six persons killed by the ex Army veteran Page, said blood stains and bullet marks from the massacre inside the temple were still visible as people entered the gurdwara on Thursday.

"I'm going to get graphic here. The blood was still there, the bullet holes were still there, the spirit was still there - haunted," Kaleka said in a report in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Kaleka said a more positive feel emanated from the temple after it was cleaned.

Page was wounded when a police officer shot him in the stomach but the FBI said he subsequently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Three people, including a police officer, were critically injured in the shooting. Four of the six dead in the rampage were Indian nationals.

The temple management has announced that it would hold "wake and visitation" at a city high school, which is expected to be attended by thousands of people, including Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.

The condition of Oak Creek Police officer Brian Murphy, 51, who was shot eight to nine times by Page, was described satisfactory.

Santokh Singh, 50, who was critically injured, remained in serious condition. Singh had to undergo two surgeries for a gunshot wound that penetrated his chest, diaphragm, stomach and liver.

Punjab Singh, 65, remained critical as he had suffered a single gunshot wound to the face that caused facial fractures and damage to his right carotid and vertebral artery.

Inside the gurudwara, the group held a special service for peace and chanted the holy scriptures.

The people huddled in small groups, while women embraced one another, their eyes still red with tears.

The funeral service is expected to draw thousands of supporters mourners, including some from India.

Representatives from each of the victims' families are expected to speak along with US Attorney General Eric Holder. The community struggled to come to terms with the loss and pain of the shooting.

"Nobody could ever imagine a tragedy of this scale, let alone prepare for it," said Kulwant Dhaliwal, a representative of the Oak Creek Sikh temple.

Dhaliwal said the community has received tremendous support and solace from others adding that a stranger had come up to him and expressed his sorrow at the temple attack.

"That's the kind of thing that restores your faith in humanity," Dhaliwal said.

A remembrance service was also held on Thursday in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee which drew nearly 200 people.

Economics professor at the university Swarnjit Arora recited the names of victims and said some had been in America for many years without seeing their families.

"We never thought this type of thing could happen in Milwaukee... If anything, people have bent over backward to make us happy," he said.


Latest News from India News Desk