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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Police ID attacker at Sikh temple

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
Amardeep Kaleka, son of the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, center, comforts members of the temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a gunman killed six people a day earlier, before being shot and killed himself by police. Amardeep Kaleka, son of the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, center, comforts members of the temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a gunman killed six people a day earlier, before being shot and killed himself by police.
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OAK CREEK, Wis. — The gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee on Sunday and critically wounded three others, including a police officer, was identified Monday as Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran with reported links to the white supremacist movement.

Page, 40, who served in the Army from 1992 until 1998, was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center said they had been tracking Page for about a decade because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and described him as "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band."

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards did not give a motive for the shooting. He said that officials were convinced there was only one gunman.

Law enforcement officials said earlier Monday they were looking to speak with a "person of interest" who was at the scene Sunday. But by late Monday afternoon, they ruled him out as having any connection with the shooting.

Chief Edwards suggested Monday that investigators might never know for certain why the lone attacker targeted a temple full of strangers.

So far, no hate-filled manifesto has emerged, nor any angry Facebook entries to explain the attack.

Members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin listen to FBI Special Agent in Charge, Teresa Carlson, during a news conference in a municipal building in Oak Creek, Wis. Members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin listen to FBI Special Agent in Charge, Teresa Carlson, during a news conference in a municipal building in Oak Creek, Wis.
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"We have a lot of information to decipher, to put it all together before we can positively tell you what that motive is — if we can determine that," he said.

Chief Edwards, speaking at a news conference, also identified the victims, five men and one woman, who ranged in age from 39 to 84.

The victims were identified as Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; and Suveg Singh, 84. Mr. Kaleka was the president of the temple.

Witnesses told family members that Mr. Kaleka died while tackling the gunman.

Three others, including a police officer, were wounded and were in critical condition at a local hospital.

The gunman, carrying a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and with a 9/11 tattoo on his left shoulder, entered the temple about 10:15 a.m. Sunday, police said, and began firing at priests gathered in the lobby.

He then stalked through the temple as congregants, including women preparing a meal for services, ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in restrooms and prayer halls.

They made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as fear took hold.

Chief Edwards described the first minutes after police responded to the 911 calls, which started at 10:25 a.m.

He said the first police officer on the scene was tending to a wounded person in the parking lot when the suspect stood over him and fired eight or nine shots at close range, striking him in the neck.

The officer, Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, was in critical condition, the chief said.

He said Lieutenant Murphy was a 21-year member of the department and he waved on officers trying to assist him in the parking lot, telling them to go first into the temple to check on victims there.

Chief Edwards said when the other officers arrived on the scene, they initially did not know that one of their officers had been wounded. They saw the suspect in the parking lot and ordered him to drop his weapon.

The suspect responded by firing at patrol cars, shattering the windshield of one.

Chief Edwards said the officers "returned fire, putting the individual down."

The mayor of Oak Creek, Steve Scaffidi, said Sunday was a "tragic day for our city."

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims," Mr. Scaffidi said.

He said Oak Creek was an open, diverse community.

"The Sikh community is what helps make our city strong," he said.

Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center said Page played guitar and sang vocals for a band started in 2005 called End Apathy.

"The music that comes from these bands is incredibly violent and it talks about murdering Jews, black people, gay people, and a whole host of other enemies. It is music that could not be sold over the counter around the country," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center.

In an interview, Page's stepmother, Laura Page, 67, of Denver, expressed shock at the news that the boy she had known since he was 10 could be behind such a crime.

"I can't imagine, I can't imagine what made him do this," she said.

She said he grew up with his mother, a dog groomer, in the Denver area until she died when he was 12 or 13. Then he went to live with an aunt and a grandmother.

After high school, he enlisted in the Army.

"I think that he felt that he was misdirected and that the service helped him find a direction in life," she said, saying that after he joined the Army he didn't keep in contact.

Page was living in an apartment in Cudahy, Wis., about five miles from the temple.

According to Wells Fargo officials, the bank completed a foreclosure in January on a home he had owned in Fayetteville, N.C. Bank officials said the house was vacant when foreclosure proceedings began in August, 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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