When Wade Michael Page burst into the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sadwant Singh Kaleka rushed him with a tradtional Sikh knife, slowing Page long enough for the women to hide in a pantry and for the children attending Sunday school downstairs to escape.

The gunman, using a Springfield 9mm semiautomatic handgun, had already shot at least one person in the temple’s car park.

He then went on to kill six Sikh worshippers – including Kaleka (whose greiving family are pictured above) – before heading back outside to ambush police when he heard sirens.

Amardeep Singh Kaleka, his son, said that FBI agents had embraced him after the attack and said, “Your dad’s a hero”.

“Whatever time he spent in that struggle gave the women time to get cover,” the Telegraph reported Kaleka as saying.

Fellow worshippers described Sadwant Kelaka as the kind of man who, if you called him at two in the morning to say a light had gone out at the temple, would be there at 2:15 am to change the bulb.

Page, a former US soldier, who is widely thought to have mistaken turban-wearing Sikhs for Muslims, was eventually shot by police outside.