Niagara Gazette

October 20, 2012

Local Sikh community steps up for police

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

NIAGARA FALLS — For Oak Creek, Wisc. Police Lt. Brian Murphy it was all in the line of duty.

Murphy was one of a number of officers who rushed to a Sikh temple in his community on Aug. 7 in response to a call of a gunman opening fire on the congregation there. As Murphy tended to a shooting victim, the gunman, a neo-Nazi skinhead, walked up and ambushed him.

The veteran officer was shot multiple times. Yet, as other officers started to rush to his aid, Murphy ordered them to continuing rescuing other victims.

His selfless act of heroism touched members of the Sikh community nationwide.

In response, they held a series of fund-raisers across the country to help Murphy and his family. One of those events took place at the Falls temple on 19th Street.

On Friday, the Falls Sikh community went to police headquarters and presented a check for $3,500 to Police Superintendent John Chella. Chella said he’ll now make sure that money reaches Murphy.

“We’ve known since the department has become involved with the Sikh community what generous contributing people they are,” Chella said. “They are an asset to the community.”

For Lakhwinder Gill, president of the Niagara Sikh Association, who watched reports of the temple shooting as the tragedy unfolded, Murphy’s actions deserved to be honored.

“We had all seen what was happening on CNN,” Gill said. “(Murphy) was doing his job, but he was very brave.”

Surgit Singh, a regional representative of the Sikh community, said his members are proud of their new country and actions of those whose job it is to defend them.

“We are really grateful to be here. This country is the greatest,” Singh said. “This reason we did this, maybe for the police officer (refusing aid) is normal, but for the average human being it is not. It was brave and unusual.”

The local money will go to a Sikh fund set up for Murphy that had now topped more then $1 million.

“We can say thanks for what (Murphy) did,” Singh said.

Chella said while the shooting that took the seven lives and left Murphy and two others wounded has faded from the headlines, the Sikh community remembers what happened as if it was only yesterday.

“The Sikh community has been amazing,” Mayor Paul Dyster said. “They are emblematic of the American melting pot. If you look at how they have assimilated into the community, they know what it means to be Americans.”