A day after members were allowed back into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin for the first time since Sunday’s attack, the country’s top lawyer, US Attorney General Eric Holder, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker were scheduled to speak on Friday.
Then a series of priests were to read the Sikh holy book from cover to cover in a rite honouring the dead called “Akhand Path”. It takes 48 hours.
“We want to pay homage to the spirits who are still in there,” said Harpreet Singh, a nephew of one of the victims.
One bullet hole in a doorway leading to the main prayer hall was left unrepaired as a memorial to the shooting victims.
Hundreds of mourners, many of them Indian-American, milled through a nearby school gymnasium and by the six caskets as images of the victims were projected on a large screen. The mourners greeted victims’ family members with hugs.
Sikh singers sang hymns in the Punjabi dialect. One paused to translate some of the lyrics.
“Dear God, you have given me this body and this soul. This body is doing whatever you want me to do. You take this soul, this is your soul,” he said.
Several dozen police officers stood by, watching the service.
Federal investigators might never know for certain why 40-year-old Wade Michael Page chose to attack strangers.
The Army veteran opened fire with a 9 mm pistol, killing five men and one woman and injuring two other men.
The dead included Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, the temple president, who was shot as he tried to fend off Page with a butter knife.
Authorities say he ambushed the first police officer who responded, shooting him nine times. A second officer shot Page in the stomach, and Page killed himself with a shot to the head.
The officer who was injured was upgraded on Thursday to satisfactory condition.