Gunman in Sikh Temple attack was white supremacist
BY SCOTT BAUER & TODD RICHMOND Associated Press
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
8/07/12 at 6:15 AM
OAK CREEK, Wis. - Before he strode into a Sikh temple with a 9mm handgun and multiple magazines of ammunition, Wade Michael Page played in white supremacist heavy metal bands with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy.
The bald, heavily tattooed bassist was a 40-year-old Army veteran who trained in psychological warfare before he was demoted and discharged more than a decade ago.
A day after he killed six worshippers at the suburban Milwaukee temple, fragments of Page's life emerged in public records and interviews. But his motive was still largely a mystery. So far, no hate-filled manifesto has emerged, nor any angry blog or ranting Facebook entries to explain the attack.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards suggested Monday that investigators might never know for certain why the lone attacker targeted a temple full of strangers.
"We have a lot of information to decipher, to put it all together before we can positively tell you what that motive is - if we can determine that," Edwards said.
Page, who was shot to death by police, joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged in 1998. He was described Monday by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "frustrated neo-Nazi" who had long been active in the obscure underworld of white supremacist music.
Page wrote frequently on white supremacist websites, describing himself as a member of the "Hammerskins Nation," a skinhead group rooted in Texas that has offshoots in Australia and Canada, according to the SITE Monitoring Service, a Maryland-based private intelligence firm that searches the Internet for terrorist and other extremist activity.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the law center, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Montgomery, Ala., said Page played in groups whose often sinister-sounding names seemed to "reflect what he went out and actually did." The music talked about genocide against Jews and other minorities.
In a 2010 interview, Page told a white supremacist website that he became active in white-power music in 2000, when he left his native Colorado and started the band End Apathy in 2005. The band's MySpace page listed the group as based in Nashville, N.C.
Page joined the military in Milwaukee in 1992 and was a repairman for the Hawk missile system before switching jobs to become one of the Army's psychological operations specialists assigned to a battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C.
As a "psy-ops" specialist, Page would have trained to host public meetings between locals and American forces, use leaflet campaigns in a conflict zone or use loudspeakers to communicate with enemy soldiers.
He never deployed overseas in that role, Army spokesman George Wright said.
Page was demoted in June 1998 for getting drunk while on duty and going AWOL, two defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Page also received extra duty and was fined. The defense officials said they had no other details about the incident, such as how long Page was gone or whether he turned himself in.
Outside Fayetteville, N.C., a brick ranch house Page bought in 2007 with help from a Veterans Administration mortgage stood boarded up Monday with knee-high weeds in the yard. A notice taped to the front indicated the home was in foreclosure and had been sold to a bank in January.
Before buying the home, Page lived with Army soldier Darren Shearlock, his wife and young children in a doublewide trailer in a rural community near Fort Bragg, records show.
Shearlock, dressed in his military fatigues, declined to comment about Page or the shooting when approached Monday by The Associated Press.
Page's former stepmother said she was devastated to learn of the bloodshed.
"He was a precious little boy, and that's what my mind keeps going back to," said Laura Page of Denver, who was divorced from Page's father around 2001.
In Wisconsin, Page responded to a recent online ad seeking a roommate in Cudahy, a small city outside Milwaukee.
He rented a room in Kurt Weins' house in June, telling Wein he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and needed a place to stay.
Weins said Page stayed in that room all the time, declining invitations to watch TV with him. Several weeks later, Page rented an apartment in a duplex owned by Weins across the street.
The FBI was leading the investigation because the shooting was considered domestic terrorism. The agency said it had no reason to believe anyone other than Page was involved.
Page entered the temple as several dozen people prepared for Sunday services. He opened fire without saying a word.
The president of the temple died defending the house of worship he founded.
Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, managed to find a butter knife and attempted to stab the gunman before being shot twice, his son said Monday.
Federal officials said the gun used in the attack had been legally purchased. Page was issued five pistol-purchase permits in 2008 in North Carolina, paying a $5 fee for each.
On Sunday, the first officer to respond was shot eight to nine times as he tended to a victim outside the temple. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot.
The six dead ranged in age from 39 to 84 years old.
Original Print Headline: Killer was a white supremacist
Members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin listen to FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson during a news conference in a municipal building in Oak Creek, Wis., on Monday. M. SPENCER GREEN / Associated Press