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Worshipers eager to return to Sikh temple

Investigators wrap up search for clues

Sikhs believe that temples should have one door open in each direction to symbolize that everyone is welcome.

Jeffrey Phelps/associated press

Sikhs believe that temples should have one door open in each direction to symbolize that everyone is welcome.

MILWAUKEE — The Sikh temple in Oak Creek is the center of Harpreet Singh’s existence. The cab company owner visits almost every day. And when business takes him to the Milwaukee airport, he stops by to pay his respects.

However, neither Singh nor any of his fellow worshipers have been allowed to return in the five days since a white supremacist burst into the temple and fatally shot six people as Sunday services were to begin. Federal investigators roped off the building as they cataloged the scene and search for clues.

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‘‘My life, it’s wrapped around the gurdwara,’’ Singh said, referring to the temple. ‘‘Our heart aches when we see it from a distance and are not able to get there.’’

Singh and others understand the delay, but are eager to return to the house of worship that unites their community and symbolizes their faith.

The FBI wrapped up its investigation Thursday and allowed Sikh leaders and construction workers inside to repair bullet holes and other damage, clean bloodstains, and repaint walls. Their goal is to reopen to everyone by Friday.

‘‘We are anxious to return, but we really have no option or control or choice,’’ said Dr. Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a community leader. ‘‘They will finish the investigation, then hand it over. It doesn’t matter how we feel.’’

Dhaliwal’s resignation is shared by many of his fellow Sikhs. They are devastated by the shooting, and instead of reacting with anger or resentment toward law enforcement officials, they have turned inward, supporting each other.

The funerals for the six victims are scheduled Friday morning at a high school.

The leaders plan to sit down with Oak Creek police next week to discuss whether the temple should develop additional security measures.

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