By Brendan O’Brien and James B. Kelleher
CREEK, Wis., Aug 6 (Reuters) – The gunman who killed six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was identified as a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran and authorities said they were investigating possible links to white supremacist groups and his membership in skinhead rock bands.
The assailant, shot dead by police at the scene on Sunday, was identified as Wade Michael Page. He served as a soldier in the Army from 1992 to 1998, police chief John Edwards said in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek where the 400-member temple is located.
Survivors described women and children hiding in the pantry of the temple’s community kitchen as the gunman stormed through the building. “Everyone was falling on top of one another,” said Parminder Toor, 54, speaking in Punjabi as her daughter-in-law, Jaskiran Kaur, translated.
“It was dark and we were all crammed in.” One of the women who made it into the pantry had been shot in the hand, and there was “blood everywhere,” said Toor.
Federal authorities said they were treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, Page was a member of two racist bands named End Apathy and Definite Hate, “a band whose album ‘Violent Victory’ featured a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face.”
A MySpace page for a band that appears to be one of those identified by the SPLC, End Apathy, includes songs with titles such as “Self Destruct,” “Submission” and “Insignificant,” as well as pictures of three heavily tattooed band members.
“The music is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress,” the band’s profile says.
Band T-shirts advertized on the page include one with the Roman numeral 14 — a number the SPLC said was a reference to the 14-word white supremacist slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
A YouTube video posted in 2009 of a song by Definite Hate, which appears to have been another Page band, shows a scroll of the lyrics that includes: “Wake Up, White man, For Your Race, And your land,” and “Wake Up People Or Your Gonna Die!”
The SPLC pointed to a 2010 interview with white supremacist website Label 56 in which Page said he had played in various bands since 2000, when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle.
Two years earlier, in 1998, Page had been discharged from the Army for “patterns of misconduct,” according to military sources. He had served for six years but was never posted overseas. He was a psychological operations specialist and missile repairman who was last stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the sources said.
In June 1998 he was disciplined for being drunk on duty and had his rank reduced to specialist from sergeant. He was not eligible to re-enlist.
In recent months, Page moved to a suburb of Milwaukee called Cudahy. Peter Hoyt, who lives nearby, said he would often see Page sitting on his porch or walking the neighborhood.
Page talked about an ex-girlfriend who had broken up with him or, sometimes, the Green Bay Packers. “He was friendly with me,” Hoyt said. “When I found out it was him, I was astounded.”
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