Shooting at Sikh Temple in Wisconsin Shows How Changes in the Training and Equipment of American Police Officers Can Make a Difference in Multiple Victim Shooting Incidents

At a press conference today, Oak Creek, Wisconsin Police Chief John Edwards stated that officers who had been trained and equipped with patrol rifles ended the deadly shooting spree at a Sikh temple.  Chief Edwards stated in a press conference that officers challenged the suspect and demanded that he drop his firearm.  When the suspect opened fire hitting two patrol cars with a handgun, an officer shot and killed Wade Michael Page with his tactical rifle

American law enforcement agencies were largely slow to equip patrol officer with tactical rifles in contrast with police agencies in the U.K., Europe, the Middle East and many other regions of the world.  For example, Police Officers in the U.K., Italy, Israel, Germany and many other countries have carried not only carbines but commonly carried fully automatic rifles, carbines and submachine guns for several decades.  This type of training and equipment has helped to end active shooter situations in a number of other instances such as the deadly Red Lake Reservation school shooting in Minnesota where tribal police quickly engaged and wounded a former student who was armed with a police officer’s tactical shotgun and service pistol.  The gunman then killed himself ending the deadly rampage.

Police are also reviewing how civilians are trained to respond to active shooter situations.   There is considerable debate among school and law enforcement officials as to whether this approach will reduce danger, or could actually increase the number of casualties in some situations.  Fox News is reporting that Satwant Kaleka, the president of the Sikh temple, may have attempted to attack the gunman during the shooting.  Kaleka was killed in the attack.  Police say that Wade Michael Page allegedly entered the temple and opened fire killing six victims before moving outside where he was shot and killed by responding police officers.   

The FBI is investigating the possibility that the incident is an act of domestic terrorism which occurred in Oak Creek which is a suburb of Milwaukee.  Page is reported to have killed five victims from the temple and wounded three more victims before he shot and seriously wounded the first police officer to arrive at the scene before another officer shot and killed him.

The media has also reported that at least one victim in the deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado may have been shot and killed while attempting to stop the shooting by attacking the gunmen.  As with many such cases, we may lack detailed and accurate information for some time in both of these cases while a thorough investigation is conducted. 

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.