(OAK CREEK, Wis.) — Five days after a gunman opened fire inside their temple, the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wis., will hold the first of six funerals Friday for the victims of a white supremacist’s murderous shooting spree.
Sikhs will first gather for a wake at a high school, followed by a memorial service where Attorney General Eric Holder is slated to speak. Early Friday afternoon, the Sikh temple will open for prayer as the Sikhs take turns reading over a thousand pages of their holy book until Sunday morning. Three funerals will be held Friday and three more on Saturday.
It was last Sunday when white supremacist Wade Michael Page went on a shooting rampage that killed six and wounded others. Page then took his own life after being shot by an officer.
The people wounded in the attack, including a police officer who was shot eight or nine times, are progressing in their recoveries. According to the hospital where they are recuperating, Lt. Brian Murphy is now in satisfactory condition.
Punjab Singh, 65, is still in critical condition, requiring mechanical support to breathe, after suffering a gunshot wound to the face. The hospital said Singh may also have subsequently suffered a stroke.
Santokh Singh, 50, is in serious condition after he had surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest.
On Thursday, the Sikh temple re-opened to members for the first time since the shooting.
“It’s only open right now currently to those people who are volunteering to clean it up and to the cleaning agencies getting in there and fixing the things up,” said temple spokesman Amardeep Singh Kaleka.
Later in the day, people came together for a community meeting that included an appearance by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who warned that the threat to the Sikh community still remains.
“The Sikhs are such peace-loving people and so caring and the power of their innocence in the temple touches us in a different kind of way. But they are no less safe than they were a week ago because those who hated them then, hate them now,” Jackson said.
In addition to the appearances by Jackson and Holder, other prominent public officials such as Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan have also come to Oak Creek this week to support the Sikhs.
At an emotional candlelight vigil Tuesday night in a downtown park, Ryan said that “the Sikhs have been a great part of our community for a long time.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Matt McFarland, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN
Ashley Strickland, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin and Paul Vercammen, CNN