U.S. flags flew at half-staff on federal buildings across the country this week, as a nation mourned the victims killed Aug. 5 by an alleged white supremacist at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Calling the attack a “senseless act of violence,” President Barack Obama Aug. 6 issued a proclamation that all public buildings, military bases and U.S. embassies and consular offices abroad must fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until Aug. 10.
On Aug. 5, Wade Michael Page stormed the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., during morning services, and killed six people with a nine millimeter handgun. Page, who was killed by police, allegedly had ties to white supremacist groups and sported a 9/11 tattoo on one arm.
The massacre was the largest-ever attack on Indian American Sikhs. The FBI is investigating the matter as an act of domestic terrorism.
The Sikh temple shooting occurred as the nation was reeling from another deadly rampage July 20, when James Holmes killed 12 people and injured another 58, at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
At a press briefing Aug. 6, Obama cautioned against assumptions about the gunman. "If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes.”
“It will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another," he said.
Shortly after news of the shooting broke, the president issued a statement. “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.”
“My administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”
The flag is flown at half-staff typically when a dignitary or prominent political figure dies, as a mark of respect to their memory.
Governors in several states across the nation also ordered flags to fly at half-staff at state buildings.