Tattooed Army Veteran Identified as Sikh Temple Shooting Suspect, FBI Probes Hate Links

First photos emerge of the 40-year-old suspected gunman killed by police

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Monday, Aug 6, 2012  |  Updated 1:29 PM PDT
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    The gunman suspected of launching the deadly Sikh temple rampage that killed six people was identified by authorities Monday as 40-year-old former Army Sgt. Wade Michael Page.

    He was also the former leader of a neo-Nazi music group called End Apathy, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic hate groups.

    FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson said Monday they were looking into Page’s ties to white supremacist groups. Page had contact with law enforcement in the past and there may be references to him in previous FBI files, Carlson said.

    The heavily tattooed Page was shot and killed by police after allegedly opening fire on worshippers with multiple magazines Sunday morning at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, authorities said.

    The dead included five men and one woman whose ages ranged from 39 to 84, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said at Monday's press briefing. Their names were: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; and Suveg Singh, 84.

    Three others, including the first police officer to arrive on the scene, were critically wounded in what the FBI is investigating as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

    President Barack Obama told reporters in the Oval Office Monday that "all of us are heartbroken by what happened" in Wisconsin.

    Americans would "recoil" at the violence if ethnicity were a factor, he said, adding that "we are all one people and we look after one another."

    Meanwhile, the first pictures of Page have emerged from the website of his neo-Nazi band End Apathy. The band's MySpace page said the group was based in Nashville, N.C.

    Page served in the Army from April 1992 to Oct. 1998 and had his rank reduced from sergeant to specialist, NBC News reported. Edwards said Monday Page was given a general discharge and was ineligible for reenlistment.

    Army officials said Page was first stationed at Fort Sill then was later stationed in Fort Bliss and Fort Bragg. He was a repairman for the Hawk missile system before switching jobs to become one of the Army's psychological operations specialists, a defense official told The Associated Press.

    Page had no criminal record in the military and no record of combat deployments, officials told NBC News. He had an arrest record for minor traffic offenses, officials said.

    Authorities told NBC News that Page purchased legally the 9mm semi-automatic handgun he allegedly used in the rampage near his home within the past 10 days.

    Although Carlson showed a photo of an unnamed white male she described as a "person of interest" in the case at Monday's press briefing, a law enforcement source said later Monday that the man had been located, interviewed and ruled out in connection with the shooting.

    For more developments in the Sikh temple shooting investigation visit NBCNews.com.

    Police first received a call from inside the temple at 10:30 a.m. Sunday and responded within minutes, Edwards said.

    Edwards said the gunman "ambushed" one of the first officers to arrive as the officer, a 21-year veteran with tactical experience, tended to a victim outside. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot.

    The 51-year-old wounded officer, Lt. Brian Murphy, was in critical condition resting with his family Monday at the hospital, Edwards said. He had been shot eight to nine times at very close range with a handgun, Edwards said.

    Tactical units went through the temple and found four people dead inside and two outside, in addition to the shooter.

    Satpal Kaleka, wife of the temple's president, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was in the front room and saw the gunman enter the temple, according to Harpreet Singh, their nephew.

    "He did not speak, he just began shooting," said Singh, relaying a description of the attack from Satpal Kaleka.

    The temple president's family said that Satwant Singh Kaleka died while trying to stop the violence by attempting to grab the suspect."The FBI told me specifically, 'Your father must have been a hero because he at least slowed him down in order for people to get to safety," Kaleka's son, Amardeep Kaleka, told NBC Chicago.

    Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said there would be a community vigil Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

    “We will recover from this,” he said.

    Sikhism has roughly 27 million followers worldwide. Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair; male followers often cover their heads with turbans — which are considered sacred — and refrain from shaving their beards. There are roughly 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S., according to estimates. The majority worldwide live in India.

    Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs are not Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.

    Police in New York and Chicago issued statements saying they were giving Sikh temples in those cities additional attention as a precaution after the shooting, which also came two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people at movie theater in Colorado.


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