SOUTHWEST RANCHES (CBSMiami ) – The Sikh community in South Florida honored those who were killed or wounded at the Wisconsin Sikh temple on Sunday with a prayer vigil and a candlelight vigil at a Sikh temple in Southwest Ranches Monday.
With sings, prayers and quiet reflection, dozens of Sikhs paid tribute to those who lost their lives or are fighting to survive.
“Whether it’s a Sikh temple or a synagogue or a mosque, the Sikh community feels hurt, just like every American should feel hurt,” said Dr. Mandeep Singh.
Others said the pain of the attack is heartbreaking.
“I was just in a state of disbelief,” said Gurgegh Singh. “I couldn’t believe that someone went into our most sacred sites and started shooting.”
A group of children at the temple made cards for the victims and praised Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy. Murphy shot the gunman — identified as former Army veteran Wade Michael Page — but Murphy was shot several times and is fighting for his life.
“He wanted to save people and be good,” said Dilnaam Kaur, as she showed us her homemade card.
Sikhs in South Florida say ever since 9/11 they’ve had to fight a perception that they are something other than what they are.
“A lot of people misconstrue us as Al Qaeda or Taliban because bin Laden had a turban or a long beard and that’s not who we are,” said Deepta Sibia.
Captain Rick Wierzbicki of the Broward Sheriff’s Office is commander of the hate crimes task force. He and others from BSO attended the vigil in a show of support. Wierzbicki said BSO tracks hate crimes groups closely…
“Hate crimes here in Florida and nationally are spiking right now,” he said. “Florida has the second largest hate crime and domestic terrorism groups in the United States.”
This community now knows the pain of being targeted but they promise that those who died will have not died in vain.
“We’re mourning,” said Sibia. “But we’re going to get through this.”
A Broward Sheriff’s deputy has kept vigil in the parking lot since Sunday and will likely remain for the foreseeable future.