US Sikh temple victim remains in coma

US Sikh temple victim remains in coma

Sikh priest Punjab Singh has not regained consciousness since the shooting rampage at a temple earlier this month that wounded him and three others and left six victims dead, his family says.

In their first public comments since the Aug 5 attack, Singh's sons described how they rushed from India to be with their father after the shooting, and now spend most of their waking hours at the Milwaukee hospital where he remains in a coma.

"It's hard, but we are just trusting in God now," his older son, Raghuvinder Singh, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Wednesday at the temple where the shooting happened.

Punjab Singh was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head and needs a machine to help him breathe. His son declined to discuss his father's current condition, deferring to hospital officials to release information at the appropriate time.

A hospital spokeswoman said she couldn't immediately comment, citing confidentiality laws.

The elder Singh was wounded when a gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. The motive of the gunman, who killed himself, is unknown.

Singh was in a bedroom at the temple that morning. When he heard gunfire he tried to barricade himself, but the gunman apparently forced the door open far enough to reach his handgun inside and shoot Singh once in the face as he hid behind the door.

The bullet caused facial fractures and damaged a major neck artery.

Raghuvinder Singh, 44, his mother and 29-year-old brother, Jaspreet Singh, heard about the shooting at their homes in India and rushed to be by Punjab Singh's side. They arrived in the US on Aug 11, Punjab Singh's 65th birthday.

The soft-spoken brothers perked up as they shared stories about their father, smiling as they described his deeply religious ways and passion for educating and clothing poor children in India.

"He was always sending us to buy books, uniforms and shoes for poor children," Raghuvinder Singh said.

"Any money he made from preaching, he would spend on donations. He wasn't interested in a bigger house for himself or a new car. He just wanted to help poor people."

After he retired from the Indian army, Punjab Singh began preaching in India and also accepted speaking invitations from Sikh leaders in California, New York and New Jersey.

"He was able to relate to people well," family friend Mandeep Kaur said, explaining why Singh's services were in such demand. "He was able to preach at a level normal people could understand."