Sikh Temple Shooter Had White Supremacist Ties
A federal official this morning identified the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin before being killed by police yesterday as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old army veteran. Advocacy groups have found evidence that Page had ties to white supremacy groups.
According to officials, Page burst into the temple in Oak Creek and opened fire on followers of Sikhism who were holding their traditional Sunday service and shared meal, killing six and critically wounding three more. Two police officers who responded were wounded in the shooting, including the officer who shot and killed the gunman. A 9 mm semi-automatic pistol that apparently belonged to Page was recovered at the scene. It is not yet clear if the gun was acquired legally.
“[The first officer on scene] came upon a victim in the parking lot and exited his vehicle, and went to assist that individual. It was at that point he was met by the suspect, who basically ambushed him. He was shot eight to nine times in very close range with a handgun,” Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said at the news conference.
He did not yet name a potential motive for the killings. So far police say there is no evidence that anyone else was involved in the crime.
Police and a bomb squad subsequently searched Page’s home in Cudahy, a Milwaukee suburb near Oak Creek.
White Supremacy Ties
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page was a white supremacist who led a racist band named End Apathy. In a 2005 interview with the white supremacist website Label 56, he said the band was founded on the concept of “trying to figure out what it would take to actually accomplish positive results in society and what is holding us back.” Label 56 removed the interview from its website following Monday’s press conference.
Page served in the army from 1992 until 1998 when he left with a less-than-honorable discharge, according to the Associated Press.
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The Sikh Coalition, based in Washington, says there have been over 700 bias-based incidents against members of the religion since the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings in 2001. The religion has some 20 million followers, mostly in India, with around 300,000 living in the United States.
“We are mindful that law enforcement officials have not yet identified the tragic shooting in Wisconsin today as a hate crime,” said Sikh Coalition’s Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur, in a press release. “However, as the focus of the investigation shifts attention to this possible motive, we want to thank Americans of all faiths and backgrounds for standing with the Sikh community in deploring this act of violence.”
According to witnesses, the alleged killer said nothing when he entered the temple; instead, he simply marched in purposefully and opened fire on the people inside.