Imagine the terror.
You are in a temple, a safe, sacred place, preparing for a morning service. In the kitchen, you are busy cooking food for lunch, while others read scriptures and recite prayers. Friends begin to gather for the soon-to-start service.
At the front door, you smile at the next man who enters. He does not smile back. Instead, he greets you with hateful stare and bullets from his gun.
Such was the scene Sunday at a Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wis., just south of Milwaukee, where a gunman, Wade Michael Page, killed six and critically injured three others before being shot down by law enforcement agents.
As Page began his shooting spree, terrified worshippers sought shelter in bathrooms and prayer rooms. Rumors of a hostage situation surfaced, and those trapped inside asked loved ones outside not to text or call their cell phones, for fear that the phone ring might give away their hiding place.
The first police officer to arrive on the scene stopped to tend to a victim outside the gurudwara. He looked up to find the shooter pointing his gun directly at him, and then took several bullets to his upper body. He waved the next set of officers into the temple, encouraging them to help others even as he bled.
That magnanimity is a common theme among the stories of victims and survivors of the Wisconsin shootings. Amidst terror and confusion, Sikhs offered food and water to the growing crowd of police and news reporters outside the gurudwara as part of langar — the Sikh practice of feeding all visitors to the house of worship.
Darkness has covered our nation and thick darkness has descended upon our people. Tragedy has clouded out the light. Shots rang out in Aurora, Colorado. Some people were wounded by gas and bullets. Others were murdered.
In this time of darkness may your resilient light shine forth.
May your light shine on the family and friends of the 12 people who were killed during this senseless crime. There's no way to explain the darkness that indiscriminately murders children, women, and men. They were each someone's son, daughter, mother, or father — and nobody can fully understand the immense grief and righteous anger of their loved ones. They need your light, Loving God. Please pour it forth....
Among the 12 moviegoers killed in the massacre in Aurora, Colo., early this morning was Jessica Ghawi, a aspiring young sportscaster from Texas who had narrowly missed being injured in another act of random violence — the shooting spree in a Toronto, Canada shopping mall last month.
On June 5, Ghawi, who wrote under the byline Jessica Redfield, described her experience at the Eaton Center in Toronto on her blog, A Run On Of Thoughts.
She wrote in part:
I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.
What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life.... I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.
Read more about Ghawi HERE.
Five chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team, already in Colorado and New Mexico ministering to victims of the ravaging wildfires, redeployed to Aurora by 8 a.m. mountain time,
Dealing with mass trauma isn't something taught in seminary, says Jack Munday, director of the team.
The BGEA is now headed by Graham's son, Franklin, who also leads Samaritan's Purse, which rushes in aid in natual disasters.
Munday says the chaplains went directly to Gateway High School in Aurora where the survivors and victims friends and family are gathered. They're also on call with local authories to go to other locations such as area hospitals.
Munday described how the team -- sent to mass shootings, natural disasters and other major tragic events -- approaches people who may be angry, grieving, in shock or simply in need of help reaching their own family or clergy.
Read the entire report HERE.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney cancelled campaign events Friday in the wake of the unfolding tragedy in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater early today, killing at least a dozen people (members of the military among them, according to news reports), and wounding dozens of others. Both men made statements reacting to the massacre.
In a statement released early Friday morning, Romney said and his wife were "deeply saddened" by news of the shooting."We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice," Romney wrote.
Speaking at an event in Florida, Obama said in part:
Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled.
And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.
It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters. At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here.
I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.
So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
So what I’d ask everybody to do, I’d like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities every single day. So if everybody can just take a moment.
(Moment of silence.)
Thank you, everybody. I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.
I am grateful to all of you, and I hope that as a consequence of today’s events, as you leave here, you spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us.
Seven people died and three others were injured Monday afternoon when a gunman opened fire on the Oakland, Calif., campus of Oikos University — a small Christian college that caters largely to a Korean and Korean-American student body.
According to CNN, police have detained a man in his 40s who police believe to be the shooter. Oikos University founder and president, the Rev. Jong Kim, told the Oakland Tribune that the gunman was a nursing student who was no longer enrolled at the school.
An update of the Oakland Tribune story shortly after 9 p.m. EST Monday police have arrested 43-year-old One Goh of Oakland in connection with the deadly shooting.
A former nursing student who opened fire in a small Christian university Monday morning, killing seven and wounding three more, first told his former classmates to line up against a wall before pulling a handgun and sending students fleeing in panic, a witness said....
Police said five people were dead at the scene; of five others who were taken to the hospital, two later died. Authorities said most of those killed and wounded had been in a classroom near the school's entrance; one was shot in an administrative office. The gunman reportedly went to another classroom and fired through its locked door but didn't hit anyone there.
The gunman was caught a short time later in an Alameda shopping center, about five miles away, police said. Safeway employees who did not give their names said the suspect told a store staffer that he had shot people and needed to be arrested.
THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY...
Gunshots were reported near a parking lot on the Virginia Tech campus on Thursday, according to a Twitter alert issued by the school.
The university later released a statement, clarifying some details and confirming that two individuals were dead.
The suspect was reportedly a white male, wearing "gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack." The campus has been put on lockdown.
According to the school's official Twitter feed, a police officer had been shot in a campus parking lot. The Associated Press writes that a law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, said initial reports indicated that the shooting occurred following a traffic stop.
Let’s face it — while lawmakers are picking their own battles in Washington, they aren’t fighting on the ground in Afghanistan. Winning elections has become more important than implementing winning foreign policy strategies that would end the war and bring our service men and women safely home.
And it’s my generation that’s being sacrificed.