Wade Michael Page, who officials say opened fire on worshippers at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee on Sunday, Aug. 5, was a neo-Nazi and a member of a white-supremacist punk band, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Page allegedly killed six people before being shot to death by police.
The 40-year-old veteran had been the leader of the band End Apathy, according to the watchdog organization’s blog Hatewatch. Mark Potok, senior fellow for the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, posted that the former Army specialist told the white-supremacist website Label 56 in an interview that he started the band in 2005 because he wanted to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways.”
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He told the website he became part of the white-power music scene in 2000 when he left his home state of Colorado and attended various hate-inspired concerts throughout the country, joining several other racist bands. According to the SPLC, he also attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, one of the nation’s largest white-supremacist organizations. There was no discussion of violence in his interview.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) special agent Thomas Ahearn told ABC News that Page had tattoos that may link him to hate groups. The ATF also said that the gun used in the shooting was purchased legally.
Police in Oak Creek had no contact with Page prior to Sunday’s shooting. But records show that Page served a 60-day jail term in 1994 for criminal mischief in Texas and a 60-day term for DUI in Colorado.
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Police say Page went to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Oak Creek at about 10:30 a.m. and opened fire on worshippers, killing six. A policeman who had just arrived on the scene caught Page ambushing an officer who was helping a victim and shot Page dead. Three others, including the first officer, were wounded.
FBI officials said at a news conference that weapons had been found at the scene. No motive for the shooting has been released, and little is currently known about the gunman except that he served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 1998 and was a member of the psychological-operations unit and won several commendations, an Army spokesperson told Yahoo News. However, he was demoted from sergeant to specialist while serving, ABC News reported.