One by one, barefoot mourners stepped forward to bow their heads in solemn prayer Monday for their neighbors killed in an gun attack on a Sikh temple in the US state of Wisconsin.
Soulful songs echoed through the peaked-roof sanctuary where hundreds sat knee to knee, their heads covered in expertly fastened turbans and hastily tied kerchiefs offered to visitors at the door.
Dozens more stood in the lobby to show their support even if there was no room for them to join the prayers at the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin -- a temple just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the scene of Sunday's bloodshed.
"In God's sanctuary, all fears depart," a video screen offering a translation of the prayer declared.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker donned an orange headscarf as he stood to offer the midwestern state's condolences and prayers for the six people killed and three gravely wounded in the attack at the Oak Creek temple.
"We join you to mourn family members and loved ones," Walker said. "And we join you to pray."
The chief federal prosecutor for the region vowed to pursue justice and find answers even though the suspected gunman -- identified by police as 40-year-old army psy-ops veteran Wade Michael Page -- had been shot dead by police.
"You can and will be safe and secure and free to worship, as all Americans should be," James Santelle said.
"We are committed as law enforcement to ensure this does not happen again."
The words of support were welcomed by Kanwarjit Singh Bajwa, a board member at the Oak Creek temple, who stood to declare that the shooting would not break the welcoming spirit of the Sikh community.
"Everyone is welcome and we have no doors closed," Bajwa told worshippers.
"We have hearts open and I thank you so much for coming together in this sad time."
As the service concluded, the mourners moved to the wooded lawn to continue their prayers at a candlelight vigil.
"We need this," Harsimran Kaur, 30, said of the service. "It's been chaos. We have suffered so much."
Gagan Khurana had hoped to find peace, but was too exhausted to feel much at all.
"My mind and body today is shut down," Khurana, 27, told AFP.
"I knew the victims personally and very close -- one was my friend's mother."
The only emotion to break through his shock was fear.
"I'm an American. I literally feel insecure living in the country I grew up in," he said.
Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president of the Brookfield temple where the service was held, said he hoped this tragedy would finally teach Americans that many of the turbaned men they see are peaceful Sikhs, not Muslim extremists.
Many here believe that Page -- who had ties to white supremacists -- targeted their temple by mistake.
"We expected this after (the terrorist attacks of) 9/11 but we didn't expect it to this magnitude," he told AFP.
"We're going to try to keep on explaining ourselves to the whole world so they will know who we are and why we look different... hopefully one day they will understand."