The man who fatally shot six people at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was identified today as Army veteran Wade Michael Page, 40, who washed out of the military in 1998 after a six-year hitch.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has studied hate crimes for decades, says on its website that Page was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band known as End Apathy.
Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s intelligence project, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group.
Beirich says there was “no question” Page was an ardent follower and believer in the white supremacist movement. She said her center had evidence that he attended “hate events” around the country.
“He was involved in the scene,” she said.
Page enlisted in April 1992 and was given a less-than-honorable discharge in October 1998. CBS reports that Page served at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the psychological operations unit in 1994, and was last stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., attached to the psychological operations there.
The Associated Press reports that such specialists are responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of intelligence used for influencing foreign populations.
The New York Post reports that Page was a Hawk missile system repair specialist before moving on to psychological operations.
The details of his discharge were not immediately clear, although CNN says a military source cites “patterns of misconduct.”
The Journal Sentinel reports that Page apparently worked as a truck driver with Granger, Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation, from about April 2006 to August 2010 while living in Fayetteville, N.C.
An employee at the company told the newspaper that Page left “involuntarily”” but declined to elaborate.
The only criminal contact it had on Page was a charge of writing a worthless check in October 1997, the Journal Sentinelreports.
In Cudahy, Amber Young, 14, said she saw the suspect walking his black Labrador on several occasions and that Page had a 9/11 tattoo on his upper right arm.
The tattoo said, “9/11” and “had a bunch of descriptions and stuff,” Young tells the paper.
Wade was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers after the rampage. CBS, citing unnamed sources, says evidence suggests race or ethnicity may have played a role in the violence, but no links to extremist groups have been confirmed.
John Bacon, USA TODAY