By Dinesha Ramde and Todd Richmond/The Associated Press
OAK CREEK, Wis. — A 40-year-old Army veteran, identified by a civil rights group as the one-time leader of a white supremacist band, was the gunman who killed six people inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, officials said Monday.
First Assistant U.S. Greg Haanstad in Milwaukee identified the shooter as Wade Michael Page. Page joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged in 1998, according to a defense official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information yet about the suspect.
Officials and witnesses said the gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee and opened fire as several dozen people prepared for Sunday services. When the shooting finally ended, seven people lay dead, including the Page, who was shot to death by police. Three others were critically wounded in what police called an act of domestic terrorism.
Page was a “frustrated neo-Nazi” who led a racist white supremacist band, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Monday. Page told a white supremacist website in an interview in 2010 that he had been part of the white-power music scene since 2000 when he left his native Colorado and the started the band, End Apathy, in 2005, the nonprofit civil rights organization said.
He told the website his “inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole,” according to the SPLC. He did not mention violence in the website interview.
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, according to the defense official.
So-called “Psy-Ops” specialists are responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of intelligence used for information and psychological effect; they research and analyze methods of influencing foreign populations.
Fort Bragg, N.C., was among bases where Page served.
Joseph Rackley of Nashville, N.C. told the AP on Monday that Page lived with his son for about six months last year in a house on Rackley’s three acres of property. Wade was bald and had tattoos all over his arms, Rackley said, but he doesn’t remember what they depicted. He said he wasn’t aware of any ties Page may have had to white supremacists.
“I’m not a nosy kind of guy,” Rackley said. “When he stayed with my son, I don’t even know if Wade played music. But my son plays alternative music and periodically I’d have to call them because I could hear more than I wanted to hear.”
Associated Press writers Gretchen Ehlke and Scott Bauer in Milwaukee; Patrick Condon in Minneapolis; Sophia Tareen and Michelle Janaye Nealy in Chicago; Larry Neumeister in New York and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.