The gunman who opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed six people has been identified as Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran who left the service with a less than honorable discharge.
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.
Authorities would not divulge the identity of the suspect in the Sikh temple shootings, and did not describe his motive other than to label his actions as “domestic terrorism.”
Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center said they had been tracking Mr. Page for about a decade because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and they described him as “a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.”
For example, a website called label56.com, which promoted Page’s bands and published his music on its label, also praises the likes of the Greek neo-nazi party, the Golden Dawn in its blog. It calls opponents of the Golden Dawn “neo fascists”.
They said he played guitar and sang vocals for a band started in 2005 called End Apathy.
In an interview, Mr. Page’s stepmother, Laura Page, 67, of Denver, expressed shock at the news that the boy she had known since he was 10 years old could be behind such a crime. “I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine what made him do this,” she said.
She said that he grew up with his mother, a dog groomer, in the metropolitan Denver area until she died when he was 12 or 13. Then he went to live with an aunt and a grandmother in Colorado.
Some neighbors said the man had initially lived on the south side of E. Holmes Ave. but moved across the street within the past few weeks.
After high school, he enlisted in the Army. “I think that he felt that he was misdirected and that the service helped him find a direction in life,” she said, saying that after he joined the Army he did not keep in regular contact.
The gunman, carrying a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun and with a 9/11 tattoo on his left shoulder, entered the temple about 10:15 a.m. Sunday, police officials said, and began firing at priests gathered in the lobby. He then stalked through the temple as congregants, including women preparing a meal for services, ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls. They made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold.
Though violence against Sikhs in Wisconsin was unheard of before the shooting, many in this community said they had sensed a rise in antipathy since the attacks on Sept. 11 and suspected it was because people mistake them for Muslims.
The shooting came about two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people and wounded nearly 60 in an attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.