A local temple is holding a vigil Tuesday in memory of those who died in the tragedy at Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. Sunday, and an invitation is being extended to all in the community to attend.
The general public, elected officials, interfaith clergy and Sikhs who wish to mourn last weekend's shooting are expected at the vigil, said CJ Singh of Bridgewater, a member of the managing board and one of the organizers of the vigil planned at on Washington Valley Road.
Singh said that members of the Sikh community, including residents of nearby Basking Ridge, need a place to grieve following a shooting that targeted members of a Sikh Temple that killed six.
A lone gunman is believed to have the temple in Wisconsin just after 10:30 a.m. last Sunday and killed six of those within before being fatally shot himself by a police officer. One of the wounded includes a police officer who was attending to victims when fired upon, authorities said.
The temple is holding a candlelight vigil and memorial service, beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, to remember those who were killed in the tragedy, as well as to show support for their families.
"It's one of these crimes that can happen anywhere," Singh said. Besides praying for those who were directly affected by the killings, Singh said the vigil is designed to help others in the community understand the perspective of how the tragedy affected other Sikhs.
"Education and awareness" will be a major focus of the event, he said.
Singh said he hopes that others in the community will attend to talk with their Sikh neighbors, and he has already experienced instances of kindness.
For example, he said that the UPS store in Bedminster did not charge him for making copies of leaflets one the person behind the counter realized they were for spreading information about Tuesday's vigil.
Singh said the temple also want to express their appreciation for local police, since he said a police officer in Wisconsin prevented the shooting's toll from being even higher.
Bridgewater Township Mayor Dan Hayes, Police Chief Richard Borden and other government officials and members of the police department are expected to attend the vigil and speak before the crowd.
Hayes said at Monday's township council meeting that the administration and police department have worked out a response plan to make sure members of the Sikh temple in Bridgewater feel safe.
"We have been in contact with leadership at the temple, expressing our empathy and sympathy," he said, "and we have talked about making sure all of their congregation feels secure at their place of worship."
A Sikh American living in The Hills in Basking Ridge passed along further guidelines for those attending: "Comfortable, modest clothing is recommended. You will be required to sit on the floor during services. Please bring a scarf or shawl to cover your head with."
Singh said the temple is located about a half mile down Washington Valley Road past the intersection with Route 206 by the A & P in Bedminster. He said the temple, with a mailing and GPS address of 977 Washington Valley Road, Basking Ridge, has a sign outside that says, "Garden State Sikh Association" and "All are Welcome."
The temple has been at its location since 1977, he said.