Man who shot six at Sikh centre said to be 'frustrated neo-Nazi'
A GUNMAN who killed six people at a Sikh place of worship in Wisconsin has been identified as a 40-year-old former soldier with alleged links to racist groups.
The white, heavy-set gunman – who some witnesses suggested carried tattoos marking the 9/11 terrorist attacks – was named as Wade Michael Page, a former serviceman once stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Officials have yet to confirm the killer’s identity.
Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – an organisation that monitors the activity of extremist groups – claimed on its website that the gunman was a “frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band”.
Forensic experts spent yesterday searching the gunman’s home in Cudahy, just a few kilometres from Oak Creek, where the Sikh gurdwara is located.
Oak Creek police chief John Edwards has confirmed that the suspect had a military background. It is thought Page was dismissed from the US army in 1998 for “patterns of misconduct” including being drunk on duty.
Sunday’s attack is being investigated as an act of “domestic terrorism”, police said.
The suspect began shooting shortly before 10.30am local time as dozens gathered at the gurdwara. After killing people inside the building, he fought with officers outside, critically injuring one. But a second officer was able to “put down” the suspect, police said. The killer was pronounced dead at the scene.
The wounded officer – who was shot multiple times – was taken to hospital for immediate surgery. It is believed that he will survive.
Emergency response teams found the bodies of four victims inside the gurdwara. Three more bodies lay outside the building, including that of the suspect. Three others – including the policeman – were injured and taken to a nearby hospital. All were said to be in a “critical condition”.
At a press conference on Sunday, Oak Creek police chief John Edwards said the “heroic actions” of the two officers “stopped this from being worse than it could have been”.
Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at SPLC in Montgomery, Alabama, said Page had been a member of the skinhead band End Apathy, based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 2010.
He tried to buy goods from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, in 2000, she said.
The law centre describes the alliance as “perhaps the most dangerous and best organised neo-Nazi formation in America”.
In a 2010 online interview with End Apathy’s record label Label56, Page said he had founded the band in 2005 because “I realised ... that if we could figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways, it would be the start towards moving forward.” – (Guardian service, Reuters)