Shooting has Bakersfield's Sikh community on high alert

Shooting has Bakersfield's Sikh community on high alert »Play Video
A Sikh temple, Gurdwara Guru Angad Darbar, 8100 Stine Road, Bakersfield, is seen Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Members of Bakersfield's Sikh community are saddened by a weekend shooting rampage in Wisconsin that left six fellow worshipers dead.

Although Bakersfield's Sikh community believes Sunday's massacre was an isolated incident, leaders say they are not taking any chances.

Bob Virk host a Sikh radio show and promotes Sikh concerts in Bakersfield. He says people who practice the religion have worked hard to educate neighbors about who they are and what they believe.

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith founded more than 500 years ago in South Asia. It has roughly 27 million followers worldwide. Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair; male followers often cover their heads with turbans — which are considered sacred — and refrain from shaving their beards. There are roughly 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S., according to estimates. The majority worldwide live in India.

Virk says news of Sunday's temple shooting in Wisconsin sent shock waves through Bakersfield's nearly 30,000 member Sikh community.

Temples like the one on Hoskings and Stine are taking precautions, employing guards to monitor the temples 24 hours a day.

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Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.