NIAGARA FALLS – The Sikh community has developed a close bond with the Niagara Falls Police Department.
That’s in part why members of the temple wanted to do something for a police officer wounded in a shooting earlier this year in Wisconsin.
Members of the temple have raised more than $3,500 to send to Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Department in Wisconsin. Murphy was shot nine times as he tried to help victims of the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wis. on Aug. 5. He had reportedly arrived first on the scene and was ambushed by the shooter.
Despite his wounds, Murphy told rescuers to help others first, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told reporters in Wisconsin in August.
“We consider him our hero,” Sohan “Sam” Bambrah, community liaison for the Niagara Sikh Association, said of Murphy.
Murphy, 52, was released from the hospital in late August, but the shooter, Wade Michael Page – who turned the gun on himself after being shot by police – and six worshippers were killed. Three others, including Murphy, were seriously injured, according to local reports.
Bambrah said Murphy’s actions inspired the entire Indian community nationwide, with close to $1 million raised in donations since August. He said locally the 19th Street temple began a fundraiser after the shooting and raised $3,500 to send to Murphy and his family.
“He is the definition of a hero. He was shot nine times and still said to the other officers, ‘I am fine, go take care of the other victims,’ ” Bambrah said. “Thank God he lived. Six people died. It could happen to any officer.”
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John R. Chella said the members of the Niagara Sikh Temple contacted him after the shooting in order to help arrange to send the donation to Oak Creek. The funds were officially given to the Niagara Falls Police Department and then sent to Oak Creek.
“The Sikh community in Niagara Falls have been great supporters of [Niagara Falls police.] When we first moved to the building 2½ years ago, we’ve had open dialogue about what we can do for them and what they can do for us. They have been an active participant in our Crime Night Out. Whatever we’ve asked them to do, they have done wholeheartedly. They are really an asset to the community," Chella said.
“We try to do our best,” Bambrah said. “We have a real good relationship between the Indian people and the police, and they are very helpful. When our temple opened on 19th Street, the crime rate was high on that street, but now it has dropped more than 50 percent.”
Bambrah said he recently visited the Oak Creek Sikh temple. He saw holes in the door of the temple left behind from bullets. He said the shooter’s name is one he cannot forget.
“We try to help people to see God, but there are some people we cannot change," Bambrah said.