CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - Local Sikhs say they are praying for the Wisconsin shooting victims.
A gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee Sunday morning, killing seven people and wounding three others.
The Guru Nanak Foundation of Tidewater plans to write a letter to leaders of the Wisconsin temple to offer their condolences.
On Sundays, local Sikhs gather at a Chesapeake temple for a morning prayer service. it begins around 10 a.m. and ends after noon.
"And then after that, there is a langar, a common kitchen, free food for everybody," said Surinder Dhillon, with the Guru Nanak Foundation.
It was during a similar community meal that a gunman opened fire in the kitchen of a Wisconsin temple. Word spread quickly to Hampton Roads.
"My god it scares us," said Dhillon. "It can happen anywhere. It needs to be condemned."
"No place is immune to these kind of incidents," said Pal Singh Gill, also with the Guru Nanak Foundation.
And while no place is immune, the Chesapeake temple is protected. Security cameras line the outside of the building and the police know Sikhs are there with good intentions.
"As soon as we had this building we called in the police people here, FBI people here and assured them what we do here," said Gill.
And if you wonder what they fear, take a minute to imagine, what it's like to wear a turban in a post 9/11 world.
"I have been teaching here in schools, and sometimes somebody passes by and says here's Bin Laden," said Gill. "It's because of the turban and the beard, because it's a mistaken identity."
The Sikhs want the public to know they are not Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. They have their own set of beliefs. They welcome anyone to come to Sunday service to help send prayers across the country.
"We are going to pray for the departed souls and we will make contact with them and share their grief as a community," said Gill.
The Guru Nanak Foundation of Tidewater believes education and awareness can put an end to violence. Local Sikhs believe the Wisconsin gunman was motivated by hate.
None of the Sikhs at the Chesapeake temple knew anyone directly involved in the shooting.
A Newport News man is charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl.
Police say a 19-year-old was shot Thursday evening in Newport News.
Three separate crashes on Interstate 664 occurred at the same time Thursday morning, causing headaches for motorists.