Wis. Sikhs plan peaceful rites to mark shootingOAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — Twelve months ago, a white supremacist walked into a Milwaukee-area Sikh temple and opened fire on worshippers he didn’t know, killing six people, injuring five others and devastating a community whose religion is based on peace and forgiveness.
With the tragedy’s anniversary coming up Monday, temple members say they’re drawing strength from their religion’s tenets. They’re planning to honor the dead with quiet events that include solemn religious observances and a candlelight vigil, hoping to show the world that the best way to stand against violence is to come together in kindness and love.
The events are being planned in the spirit of “chardhi kala” (CHAR’-dee KAH’-lah), a Punjabi term that refers to a state of constant optimism, temple trustee Harcharan Gill said. Sikhs believe that a positive attitude, even during times of hardship, reflects an acceptance of the will of God.
“In Sikhism, it’s tough to lose somebody but God probably needed him earlier and called him back,” he said of the deceased. “We accept whatever decision he makes.”
Memorial events begin Friday at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Milwaukee, where U.S. Attorney James Santelle will hold a special remembrance. Santelle’s office and the FBI investigated the shooter’s background for months before concluding that his motive for attacking the Oak Creek temple died along with him that day.
Wade Michael Page walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin a year ago Monday and opened fire. He killed several priests and worshippers, and then fatally shot himself after he was wounded in the parking lot by a police sniper.
The 40-year-old Army veteran, who also shot and severely wounded an Oak Creek police officer, had ties to white supremacist groups. But after interviewing 300 people and generating 200 investigative leads, the FBI found no evidence to suggest he had help or was acting in the name of any such groups.
Judge shields Wis. archdiocese fund from creditorsMILWAUKEE (AP) — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee can shield more than $50 million from creditors in sex-abuse settlements because the money is in a cemetery fund protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, according to a federal court ruling.
Sex-abuse victims have accused the archdiocese of shifting money into the fund to avoid having to pay them, while the archdiocese has said the money was always intended for cemetery care. A judge ruled Monday that Catholic cemeteries are sacred to believers, so setting money aside to maintain them represents the free exercise of religion.
The cemetery trust was formed in 2007 by then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, four years before the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection to deal with hundreds of sex-abuse claims. Dolan specifically wrote to the Vatican seeking permission to move $57 million into the trust.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said the trust was established for the perpetual care of cemetery sites and funded by sales of cemetery plots and mausoleums.
“Because these funds were held in trust as prescribed by canon law, they were independent of the general assets and could only be used for their intended and pledged purpose — to care for the resting places of the departed as sacred places under canon law,” she said in a written statement.
Peter Isely, an advocate for sex-abuse victims and a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, did not immediately return a message Tuesday.
Dolan’s letter to the Vatican came to light earlier this month when it was among thousands of pages of documents released by the archdiocese in conjunction with the bankruptcy case.
Minn. man convicted in Wis. photo store homicidesLA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A jury in western Wisconsin has convicted a Minnesota man of fatally shooting a La Crosse photography store owner and his teenage son in a robbery.
The jury deliberated four hours Tuesday before convicting 40-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch.
The Dakota, Minn., man was found guilty of killing 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. in May’s Photo in downtown La Crosse on Sept. 15 and then cleaning out their store of about $17,000 worth of equipment.
The La Crosse Tribune (http://bit.ly/15u3q0v) reports Lepsch faces a life sentence.
Prosecutor Tim Gruenke says the victims’ family is satisfied with the verdict but adds, “it’s hard to be happy.”
The prosecution argued Lepsch needed the camera equipment to sell for cash to support his family.
Lepsch’s attorney called the state’s evidence a “mirage.”
Salad pegged in Iowa, Neb. cyclospora outbreakLINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Iowa and Nebraska health officials said Tuesday that a prepackaged salad mix is the source of a cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 178 people in both states.
Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness. Outbreaks of the same illness have been reported elsewhere in the U.S., but it’s not clear that illnesses in any other states are linked to prepackaged salad mix. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s not clear whether all of the illnesses are linked to a single source.
Nebraska officials said the salad mix included iceberg and romaine lettuce, along with red cabbage and carrots, and came through national distribution chains. A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said the agency was still trying to identify the specific brand or brands.
Local health departments are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to identify exactly where the contamination originated in the food production chain and where the product was distributed.
The Centers for Disease Control says 372 cases of the cyclospora infection, which causes diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms, have been reported in 15 states: Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio.
The CDC said at least 21 people have been hospitalized and most of the reported illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the cyclospora infections but have not yet pointed to a source.
“CDC is still actively pursuing all leads and hasn’t implicated any single food item as the cause of the outbreak in all states,” said CDC spokeswoman Sharon Hoskins. “We’re still not sure if the cases in all of the states are linked to the same outbreak.”