OAK CREEK, WI (RNN) - Wade Michael Page, the alleged shooter who opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, has been identified as a "frustrated neo-Nazi" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Page, 40, is accused of killing six people with a 9mm handgun before a police officer shot and killed him Sunday morning in what investigators are calling a possible domestic terrorism case.
Page was the leader of the white power band End Apathy based out of Nashville, NC, according to the band's MySpace page. According to the SPLC, a nonprofit civil rights organization located in Montgomery, AL, he was also a member Definite Hate.
"He has been in the neo-Nazi, white power music scene for more than a decade," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.
Teresa Carlson, special agent in charge of the Milwaukee FBI, would not comment on if he was a white supremacist, but said the agency is looking into the suspect's past and possible ties at a news conference at the Oak Creek Police Department on Monday. Officials also would not discuss the suspect's motive.
There is evidence Page attended white power concerts and events across the country, according to the SPLC.
Potok said Page attempted to buy materials from the National Alliance, a white supremacist group that is no longer considered influential.
The National Alliance had a record label, Resistance Records, which recorded and sold white power music. Potok believes Page was most likely buying music CDs.
Photographs on the band's MySpace page show Page's arms heavily tattooed, including one photograph with a Celtic Cross or "Odin's Cross" on his shoulder with the number 14 in the middle.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Odin's Cross symbol is popularly used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. The number 14 refers to "14 words;" shorthand for a sentence spoken by white supremacist David Lane. Lane was a founding member of "The Order," a white supremacist terrorist group.
"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," Lane said while he was in jail. He died while serving a 190-year prison sentence.
In an interview with the white power website Label56.com, Page said he began End Apathy in 2005.
"The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole," Page said in the interview.
He chose the band name because he wanted to figure out what was holding back a "sick society."
"The topics [of the songs] vary from sociological issues, religion, and how the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to," Page said.
An album cover for the band Definite Hate shows a white fist punching a black man. The fist is tattooed with "HFFH," which stands for "Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins."
"The Hammerskins is a nationwide skinhead organization with regional factions and chapters that once dominated the racist skinhead movement in the United States," the SPLC said on their website.
The SPLC also wrote in a post on their website that Brent Rackley, a member of Page's band, was a member of the Confederate Hammerskins chapter in North Carolina.
Label 56 has since purged its website of references to End Apathy. In a press statement, the company said their "thoughts are with the families and friends of those who are affected.
"We have worked hard over the years to promote a positive image and have posted many articles encouraging people to take a positive path in life, to abstain from drugs, alcohol and just general behavior that can affect one's life negatively."
The company said it took down images of End Apathy, as well as the group's interview with Label 56, so as not to profit from the shooting.
"In closing, please do not take what Wade [Michael Page] did as honorable or respectable and please do not think we are all like that," the company said.
Chris Robillard, who served with Page in the Army from 1995 to 1998, said on CNN's Piers Morgan that Page often spoke of a coming "race holy war," but he never thought he would become violent.
Robillard said that Page was a loner, even standing by himself in groups. He also said that Page did not have the tattoos when he knew him in the late '90s, but that changed when Page visited in 2000 on a motorcycle trip across country en route to white supremacist concert.
"I can't say that I wouldn't have seen this coming. A couple weeks ago I was thinking of him, just to see how he's been doing over the years. When I couldn't find any contact information, I did start looking for news articles, that something like this might have happened somewhere," Robillard said.
Laurie Page, Wade's stepmother, told KUSA News that her family is in shock and expressed her condolences to the victims of the attack.
She added that Wade previously had Hispanic and black friends.
"What has changed him, I have no idea. And obviously we're never going to know," Laurie said.
According to the Pentagon, Page enlisted in the Army in 1992 in Milwaukee and was given a general discharge in 1998. A parachutist who received a commendation medal, Page received basic training at Fort Sill, OK, moved to Fort Bliss, TX, and finished his career at Fort Bragg, NC.
Page, who also served as a "Psy-Ops" specialist. Psy-Ops analyze intelligence that can be used for psychological effect and can be used to influence groups of people, especially in foreign lands.
After rising to the rank of sergeant, Page was later demoted to specialist, apparently because of performance issues, according to the Pentagon. Unlike an honorary discharge, a general discharge is related to performance rather than misconduct.
According to Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards, Page had a criminal record. CNN reports that Page had separate convictions for DUI in Colorado in 1999 and for criminal mischief in Texas in 1994.
Neighbors, who often saw Page lifting weights and carrying a guitar, described him to CNN as stand-offish, saying he often responded to questions with grunts.
The shooting began as women and children had gathered to prepare a feast after an 12:30 p.m. ET service.
Police first arrived on the scene at 11:25 a.m. ET after receiving a 911 call. Lt. Brian Murphy, the first officer on the scene, was ambushed by the suspect outside the temple as he tended to a victim.
Murphy was shot nine times, but a second officer fired back at the suspect, fatally wounding him. The injured officer is in critical condition but is expected to survive.
The FBI carried out a search warrant on a duplex home in Cudahy, WI, on Sunday. Officials used tactical armed vehicles while performing their search. Heavy weapons and military-style gear were also on-hand.
The duplex landlord said the upstairs unit of the home was rented one month ago by a single man in his 40s. CNN reported that the man living in that unit lived had recently broken up with a girlfriend.
According to Fox 6 Milwaukee, Page worked at a metal shop in Cudahy. However, he unexpectedly quit two weeks ago without reason.
Witnesses at the Sikh temple said that Page was wearing black pants and white short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt and that he had a 9/11 tattoo.
Speaking on CNN Sunday, Rajwant Singh, the chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said that since 9/11, many people who are not familiar with the Sikh religion mistake those who follow the faith with followers of the Taliban or Osama bin Laden.
Sikhism is a 500-year-old religion with more than 20 million adherents worldwide, according to sikhs.org. The founder of the religion was Guru Nunak, who was born in Punjab, India, in 1469.
Nunak was influenced by the Hindu and Muslim religions, and Sikhism contains influences from both religions, but is not an amalgamation of the two. Adherents do not cut their hair, follow dietary laws, believe in equality for men and women, hard work, and believe in one god.
The religion teaches tolerance and nonviolence. The word "sikh" means disciple in the Punjabi language.
The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin has been active in Milwaukee since 1997 and the temple has been in its current location in Oak Creek since 2006.
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