Sikh Temple Shooter Identified: Army Vet and White Supremacist UPDATE: Shooter Wade Michael Page Once led White Power Band (UPDATE 2)
Authorities have now named the shooter — himself shot dead at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin where he killed seven people — as Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran and white supremacist. News reports continue to use the word “alleged,” but this is truly a case where the identity of the killer is known:
The alleged gunman in Sunday’s killing rampage at a Sikh temple in southern Wisconsin is Wade Michael Page, authorities told NBC’s Pete Williams Monday.
Page, who served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998, allegedly killed six people at the temple and wounded three before he was shot and killed. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page is the former leader of a neo-Nazi music group called End Apathy.
Police say Page, 40, purchased the pistol used in the shooting within the past 10 days near his home.
A police officer called to the scene shot Page dead before he could fire on more worshippers as they prepared for Sunday services at the temple in the suburb of Oak Creek, south of Milwaukee.
Police searched Page’s apartment for clues early on Monday. The FBI said on Sunday that it had not determined a motive for the Sunday morning shooting.
Authorities said they were treating the attack as an act of domestic terrorism.
UPATE: The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch reports that Page once led a white power band:
The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.
The website gives this purported picture of him.
In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.” “I was willing to point out some of my faults on how I was holding myself back,” Page said. Later, he added, “The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole.” He did not discuss violence in the interview.
Go to the website to read the rest of its post in full. Note that as of this writing, police have not released any picture of Page.
The suspect in a shooting that left six people dead at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee on Sunday has been identified as Wade Michael Page, who served in the U.S. Army for about six years.
According to sources in the U.S. Army, Page enlisted in April 1992 and given a less-than-honorable discharge in October 1998. He served at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the psychological operations unit in 1994, and was last stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, attached to the psychological operations unit. The details of his discharge were not immediately clear.
Wade was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers after the rampage that left terrified congregants hiding in closets and others texting friends outside for help.
Officials had previously described the suspect as a heavy-set, 40-year-old Caucasian with numerous tattoos.
Sources tell CBS News some unspecified evidence suggests race or ethnicity may have played a role in the violence, but no links to extremist groups have been confirmed.
Page, 40, opened fire outside the temple before entering around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and killed six people. He served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998.
Page was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire with a police officer who sustained “eight or nine” gunshot wounds, authorities confirmed. Officials are treating it as a case of domestic terrorism.
Though police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, but Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists.
“It is being investigated. And what his tattoos signified is being investigated. They are all pieces of a possible puzzle to learn what was his motive in carrying out such a horrific act,” Ahern said.
While in the Army Wade served as a sergeant, and later as a specialist based in Ft. Bliss in Texas and at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Wade’s job was as a Hawk missile system repairman, and he then became a psychological operations specialist, defense official confirmed to ABC news.
ABC News’ report this morning:
UPDATE II: The Huffington Post has run this photo at the top that was reportedly supplied by the Anti-Defamation League of Wade. The HP has this tidbit:
Wade Michael Page, the suspected Sikh temple shooter, was on the radar of the Anti-Defamation League for his involvement with white supremacist groups since 2010, according to Mark Pitcavage, the ADL’s director of investigative research.
The ADL obtained photographs of Page playing guitar in front of a large swastika, which it said was taken from the Facebook page for the white supremacist group ‘Definite Hate,’ in early 2011. That page is no longer active.
Page was a member of Definite Hate, a band affiliated with the ‘Hammerskin Nation’, a white supremacist group founded in Dallas in the late 1980s, that now controls much of the White Power music scene in the U.S., according to the ADL.
The authorities said Page was the only gunman, but added that they are seeking another “person of interest” who appeared at the scene and was behaving suspiciously. The FBI has a photograph of the man at the temple immediately after the shootings, who appears to be in his twenties and is wearing black shorts and a black and red T-shirt, but not his name.
The Oak Creek police chief, John Edwards, said it is premature to ascribe a motive, but some in the Sikh community said they feared Page confused them for Muslims. Witnesses to the shooting described him as wearing a tattoo commemorating 9/11.
“Maybe he hated our community for the wrong reasons,” Amrit Dhaliwal, a local doctor and member of the Oak Creek temple, told the Guardian. “He may have thought putting a turban on was something else. We want to know: why did it happen?”
In the days following the 9/11 attacks, there were four attacks on Sikhs in the Milwaukee area.
“It’s pretty much a hate crime,” Ven Boba Ri, one of the temple’s committee members, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. “It’s sad – I don’t know how to describe it. Sikhism is such a peaceful religion. We have suffered for generations, in India and even here.”
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors extremist groups, suggested the community might have been targeted by Page because of a broader prejudice as it described him as a “frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band” called End Apathy.
Witnesses said Page “did not speak – he just began shooting”. Using a semi-automatic pistol, he fired shots in rapid succession. He was carrying several magazines of bullets. Some of the congregants hid in cupboards. Children cowered downstairs and several women barricaded themselves in the building’s kitchen. The victims included an 84-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman. Four of the dead were found inside the temple and three outside.
Among the dead was the temple president, Satwant Kaleka, who arrived in the US in 1982 largely penniless and built a successful petrol-station business. His son, Amardeep, said Kaleka, 65, was shot twice after tackling Page and then hid in a room where he died.