Wisconsin Gunman Well-Known In Racist Music Scene

 
on August 06 2012 10:20 PM

The gunman who killed six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday was identified as a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran, and authorities said they were investigating possible links to white supremacist groups and his membership in skinhead rock bands.

The assailant, shot dead by police at the scene on Sunday, was identified as Wade Michael Page. He served as a soldier in the Army from 1992 to 1998, said Police Chief John Edwards in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek where the 400-member temple is located.

At a news conference on Monday, Teresa Carlson, a special agent for the FBI, which is leading the investigation, said, "We don't have any reason to believe that there was anyone else" involved in the crime, the New York Times reported. Law enforcement officials said earlier Monday they wanted to speak with a "person of interest" who was at the temple on Sunday, but by late afternoon they had ruled out any connection between him and the shooting. 

Edwards, speaking at the news conference, identified the five men and one woman who died at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; Suveg Singh, 84; and Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, who was the center's president. 

Survivors described women and children hiding in the pantry of the temple's community kitchen as the gunman stormed through the building, Reuters reported. "Everyone was falling on top of one another," said Parminder Toor, 54, speaking in Punjabi as her daughter-in-law, Jaskiran Kaur, translated.

"It was dark and we were all crammed in." One of the women who made it into the pantry had been shot in the hand, and there was "blood everywhere," said Toor.

Federal authorities said they were treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, Page was a member of two racist bands named End Apathy and Definite Hate, "a band whose album 'Violent Victory' featured a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face."

A MySpace page for a band that appears to be one of those identified by the SPLC, End Apathy, includes songs with titles such as "Self Destruct," "Submission" and "Insignificant," as well as pictures of three heavily tattooed band members.

"The music is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress," the band's profile says.

In an April 2010 interview Page gave to the "Uprise Direct" music website about the band's work, he said his band, which formed in 2005, "was based on trying to figure out what it would take to actually accomplish positive results in society and what is holding us back. A lot of what I realized at the time was that if we could figure out how to end people's apathetic ways it would be the start towards moving forward. Of course after that it requires discipline, strict discipline to stay the course in our sick society.

"So, in a sense it was view of psychology and sociology. But I didn't want to just point the finger at what other people should do, but also I was willing to point out some of my faults on how I was holding myself back. And that is how I wrote the song 'Self Destruct."

Band T-shirts advertized on the page include one with the Roman numeral 14 -- a number the SPLC said was a reference to the 14-word white supremacist slogan "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

A YouTube video posted in 2009 of a song by Definite Hate, which appears to have been another Page band, shows a scroll of the lyrics that includes: "Wake Up, White man, For Your Race, And your land," and "Wake Up People Or Your Gonna Die!"

The SPLC pointed to a 2010 interview with white supremacist website Label 56 in which Page said he had played in various bands since 2000, when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, said that in 2000, Page tried to buy unspecified goods from the National Alliance, which Potok described as a neo-Nazi organization and one of the country's best organized and best financed hate groups.

But Potok said the center had not passed any information about Mr. Page to law enforcement.

"We were not looking at this guy as anything special until today," he said. "He was one of thousands. We were just keeping an eye on him."

J. M. Berger, an author and analyst on counterterrorism who runs the Intelwire Web site, told the Times that Page "clearly had a history with the white supremacist movement." A song called "Welcome to the South" by Definite Hate, that Berger found online, refers to "our race war" and asks, "What has happened to America/That was once so white and free?" Berger said the lyrics and album art of Definite Hate echo the views and vocabulary of the Hammerskins, or Hammerskin Nation, a white supremacist group founded in Dallas in 1988.

According to the SITE Monitoring Service, which follows white supremacist trends, Page had an extensive presence on Hammerskin and other white nationalist Web sites, including Stormfront, where he favored the names of his bands as user names and "frequently included white supremacist symbolism" in his postings. He concluded one posting with "88," a number frequently used by neo-Nazis and skinheads to mean "Heil, Hitler," according to SITE. (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.)

Page's former stepmother, Laura, however, recalled him as "a precious little boy" as a child who showed no hint that he would grow up to be a musician with white supremacist leanings.

"He was a gentle, kind, loving child, little boy and teenager," 67-year-old Laura Page said of the Wade Michael Page she knew, the Associated Press reported.

"I'm devastated," she said. "I loved him. He was a precious little boy and that's what my mind keeps going back to."

Wade Page was 10 when Laura Page married his father, Jesse, she said. Jesse Page shared custody with Wade's biological mother, who has since died, family members said. Laura Page and Jesse Page divorced in 2001, she said.

Laura Page said her ex-husband lives in Texas and is suffering from cancer. She said they have spoken since the shootings and that he, too, is devastated but does not want to speak to the media.

In 1998, Page was discharged from the Army for "patterns of misconduct," according to military sources.

Page had served in the military for six years but was never posted overseas. He was a psychological operations specialist and missile repairman who was last stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., the sources said.

In June 1998 he was disciplined for being drunk on duty and had his rank reduced to specialist from sergeant. He was not eligible to re-enlist.

In recent months, Page moved to a suburb of Milwaukee called Cudahy. Peter Hoyt, who lives nearby, said he would often see Page sitting on his porch or walking the neighborhood.

Page talked about an ex-girlfriend who had broken up with him or, sometimes, the Green Bay Packers. "He was friendly with me," Hoyt said. "When I found out it was him, I was astounded."

David Brown, a 62-year-old veteran who wears a Navy hat, recalled only perfunctory greetings with Page, who lived in an apartment below him in South Milwaukee with a woman and her 5-year-old son before he moved to Cudahy.

He said Page was a delivery driver and drove a plain white van. He also saw him on several occasions with a guitar case.

"He was very inside himself. He didn't talk much," said Brown. "I would say 'Hi' to him and all I would get would be a 'Hi' back. I tolerated him and he tolerated me."

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