Garden ceremony and benefit held in honor of Sikh Temple shooting

OAK CREEK -- Promoting peace and understanding.  Two events were held Saturday in honor of the Sikh Temple shooting.  The August massacre that killed six people and injured four has affected Oak Creek in many ways. The way in which residents gave back, will have a lasting impact on the community.

Oak Creek High School students and Sikh Temple members worked hand in hand to create a Prairie Garden on campus. Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka said, “It’s really the life, the rebirth of something great after something tragic.”

The deadly shooting has spurred a sense of unity in the community. The garden is made up of many different plants but for these folks the beauty of it is literal and figurative. David Timmer said, “This is symbolic of strength and diversity, there is beauty in it.This is about acceptance of different cultures, different races , different religions, different people, all walks of life.” Timmer said it will be a prominent statement to the countless people who pass it, “How we rallied and stood up for what right in this community.”

The community has shown endless support. Hours later, a fundraiser was also held to benefit the Sikh Temple victims and Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot 15 times by the gunman. “He’s a hero for our community and for everyone here in Oak Creek. He’s a strong man and we can’t be more thankful for what he’s done,” added Aman Sangha.

More than 100 volunteers from the temple, police department and other community businesses held a dinner and raffle to drum up money for those who are recovering and for the families who lost a loved one. Wristbands and t-shirts were also sold as a token of remembrance.

Resident Betty Ford said, “It really touched my heart I know what these people are going through, the family that lost through loved ones.” Police officer Andy Sagan added, “It was a struggle seeing your friends and co workers deal with some of the difficulties they  had to deal with but overall I think it’s been a real positive thing for us to grow from.”

The intimate setting helped foster new relationships and a chance for education. “'That’s the important thing that we all grow together and we all try to step up and help each other when we need it,” said Sagan.

About 250 people showed up and nearly $5,000 was raised. This is one of the last benefits being held because the fund is closing soon.  Fox 6 was told Lt. Murphy wasn't in attendance because he is out of town accepting an award.