Has anyone else noticed the coincidence between Bloomberg’s new Mayors Against Guns national commercial and this latest shooting? It aired, for the first time, just a couple of hours before this shooting. Also, amongst other info. in this article, notice that they spoke to the shooter’s grandmother who lives in Littleton, Colo. Another coincidence?
This is all just too obvious.
Bloomberg The gunman suspected of killing six people before police shot him dead at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee was identified as a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran with ties to white supremacists.
Wade Michael Page entered the Army in 1992 and served at Fort Bliss, Texas, as a Hawk missile-repair specialist before switching to be a “psychological operations specialist,” according to a defense official. He served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before being discharged in 1998, said the official, who asked for anonymity, saying he wasn’t authorized to speak for the Army.
A woman uses a phone as people gather outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek where a shooting took place Sunday. Photographer: Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
Police secure a neighborhood where the gunman lived who is suspected of opening fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin August, 5, 2012 Cudahy, Wisconsin. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images
The Southern Poverty Law Center described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” who in 2005 led a “racist white supremacist” metal band called End Apathy. The Montgomery, Alabama-based organization, which monitors hate groups, said it has been tracking Page for a decade.
“There’s a lot of sorrow, a lot of confusion,” in the Sikh community, said Swarnjit Arora, 71, who met with members of the congregation late yesterday. He said he was one of the first Sikhs to come to Milwaukee, in 1972.
“I’ve been here 40 years and had a most wonderful life in Milwaukee,” Arora said. “People have been exceptionally kind and sweet, they have great respect.”
The FBI is treating the attack in Oak Creek, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Milwaukee, as an act of domestic terrorism, defined as U.S.-based individuals or groups who commit violence against the populace or government, without “foreign direction.”
While authorities said they believe Page was the lone shooter, FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson showed reporters a photograph today of a white man wearing sunglasses and a T-shirt whom she described as “person of interest.”
“This individual showed up at the scene after the shooting,” Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told reporters. Witnesses said the man looked “suspicious and that he “left the scene before anyone could ascertain what he was doing there,” Edwards said.
Witnesses described the shooter as about six feet tall, light skinned, bald and with a “9-11” tattoo. He appeared to target turbaned men as he moved through the building yesterday morning and fired without speaking, temple member Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka told CNN.
The killing was the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than a month, and followed a request by more than 90 members of Congress for the FBI to monitor hate crimes directed at Sikh adherents. The lawmakers cited a “growing concern” in an April 19 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Men who follow the Sikh faith, which originated in South Asia, often wear beards and turbans. Its members are sometimes confused with Muslims.
Started 500 years ago, Sikhism has about 27 million adherents, mostly in India, according to the Associated Press. It said estimates put the number of Sikhs in the U.S. at about 500,000.
Lawmakers led by U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat, in April cited reports documenting “how those practicing the Sikh religion are often targeted for hate violence because of their religiously mandated turbans — i.e. because of their Sikh identity, regardless of whether the attacker understands the victim to be Sikh or not.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, said in a statement he was “shocked and saddened.” India “stands in solidarity with all the peace-loving Americans who have condemned this violence,” Singh said in the statement.
President Barack Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama were “deeply saddened” by the shooting. The president spoke by telephone with Charanjeet Singh, a trustee of the Sikh Temple, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, and Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi.
Mitt Romney, the probable Republican nominee for president, called the shooting “a senseless act of violence.”
The shooting prompted authorities to tighten security around Sikh temples in New York as a “precaution,” according to a statement from the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly scheduled a visit to a Sikh cultural center in Queens today.
Oak Creek is a city of about 34,000, with a median household income averaging more than $66,000 a year in 2006 to 2010, almost 29 percent more than the state average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 6.7 percent live in poverty, compared with almost 12 percent statewide.
At the Oak Creek temple, several children saw the gunman firing and alerted women who were cooking a meal to follow the 11:30 a.m. service, Arora said by telephone yesterday. Some locked themselves in a pantry and were unharmed, he said.
If the gunman had arrived an hour later, when the service was to begin, as many as 300 people would have been present, said Arora, who teaches econometrics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He said about 1,500 Sikh families live in the area and attend two temples, the other one in Brookfield.
The shooter’s weapon, a legally purchased 9 mm pistol, was recovered at the scene, according to Bernard Zapor, special agent in charge of the St. Paul, Minnesota, field division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
Three injured men, including police officer Brian Murphy, 51, were treated at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. The wounded officer was resting with his family after surgery. He and the other two wounded men remain in critical condition, hospital officials said. Among those killed was Satwant Kaleka, the temple president.
Less than a month earlier near Denver, a masked gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in suburban Aurora theater, killing 12 and injuring 58. James Holmes, a former graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver, faces multiple murder charges.
Page’s Army station was Fort Sill, Oklahoma, according to the official. The suspect then served at Fort Bliss before moving to Fort Bragg, the official said.
He was awarded two Army Good Conduct citations and a Humanitarian Service medal, according to U.S. Army records. Paul Prince, an army spokesman, declined to say whether Page was honorably discharged citing privacy laws. In 1998, Page was “administratively discharged,” he said. Police Chief Edwards told reporters Page was “ineligible for re-enlistment.”
In 2000, Page left home in Colorado and ventured on a motorcycle tour, during which he became involved with white supremacist hate groups, said Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He played in two so-called hate bands with the names “End Apathy” and “Definite Hate,” she said.
End Apathy’s topics “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 during a 2010 interview with a blog called Label56.
Page pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in Houston in 1994, was sentenced to 180 days of probation and had a 90-day jail sentence suspended, according to court records. The records didn’t provide details.
Page lived on the second floor of a gray duplex on a quiet tree-lined street of mostly single-family homes in Cudahy, Wisconsin, about 5.4 miles from the temple.
“He seemed normal,” said Peter Hoyt, 53, who lived a block away from Page and would talk with him as Page sat on the porch. “He was real laid back.” He described Page as short, stocky and bald.
A Littleton, Colorado, woman who identified herself as Page’s grandmother described him in a telephone interview as “very nice” and close to her, and declined to answer questions.
“We’re in mourning here,” she said.