FedEx shooting a 'gut punch' for Milwaukee faith leader

The shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility that left eight dead and more wounded brought back painful memories for the Sikh community in Wisconsin.

Pardeep Kaleka, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee executive director, called it a "gut punch" to learn four of the eight killed in Indianapolis on Thursday, April 15 were part of the Sikh community.

Kaleka said it brought back memories of what happened in 2012 when six people were shot and killed at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek -- and it shows there is still a lot of work to do.

"For a while now, I have felt targeted," Kaleka said.

Kaleka said it feels like crimes against minority groups are only getting worse. The shooting in Indianapolis is the latest example, in his eyes.

"Obviously brings back memories to what happened in 2012, and the work that we still need to have going forward around hate crimes and racialized violence," said Kaleka. "The whole community is saddened. We’re sending our prayers to the Sikh community in Indianapolis as well as in the broader community."

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Kaleka knows the pain first-hand. His father was among the six people killed at the Sikh Temple. Nine years later, a similar conversation.

"I didn’t think that we’d still be here talking about gun violence and hate crimes," Kaleka said. "I fear that if we don’t do something soon or right away, we’ll become normalized to just a miserable state of affairs."

A crime lab technician works in the parking lot of the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 16, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Dean / AFP) (Photo by JEFF DEAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Kaleka said while it may be more complicated to call something a hate crime in 2021, he thinks it is important that investigators keep race in mind.

"We may never know what the motive is in this incident that happened in Indianapolis, but I think considering that the Sikhs are a very small ethnic minority in this country, I think that we need to proceed with the investigation considering religious bias, ethnic bias, racial bias as a possible motive," said Kaleka.

Indianapolis police said they are still working to uncover the motive of Friday's shooting.

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