Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran who was a "psychological
operations specialist," has been identified as the gunman in the deadly Sikh
temple shooting, officials said Monday morning.
As authorities searched for a motive in the Sunday attack, the first picture of the assailant began to emerge. Page died in a shootout with police outside the temple in suburban Milwaukee. In all, seven people, including the suspect, were dead and three others were critically wounded in what police have labeled an act of domestic terrorism.
Page had served in the Army from April 1992 to October, 1998. His last rank when he was discharged was Specialist E-4, an Army spokeswoman said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times. He had no deployments overseas, she said.
Page did his training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, then was transferred to Fort Bliss in Texas, finishing his career at Fort Bragg where he served as a "psychological operations specialist," she said. There were no immediate details on what were his duties.
Among his awards were the: the Army commendation medal; five Army achievement medals; two Army good conduct medals; a National Defense Service medal; and a Humanitarian Service medal, according to the Pentagon. Page had also received a parachutist badge, indicating he had successfully attended training.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards on Monday declined to confirm the identity of the attacker, whom he called a "lone shooter." Edwards was scheduled to speak at news conference later in the morning.
"We believe this is the only person," responsible for the shooting, Edwards said, although he could not say how the man traveled to the temple or whether his tattoos indicated he belonged to a hate group.
"We don't have any indication of anyone else there," at the scene, Edwards said, adding the shooter "hasn't been in the area that long."
He said two victims remain in intensive care, one in grave and one in serious condition.
Meanwhile, the FBI and police continued their investigation at the 3700 block of East Holmes Street in Cudahy, Wis.
"While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time," Teresa Carlson, Special Agent in Charge with the agency's Milwaukee division, said in a statement.
After spending the night apparently searching a gray two-story duplex a short walk from downtown Cudahy, police opened the block on Holmes Street and left the home this morning. Passing cars slowed so people could snap pictures of the home.
A woman who came to the front door of the first-floor apartment said, "We're not talking to anybody."
Peter Hoyt, who lives on the next block, said he had spoken to the man who lived in the upper apartment. The man, who he described as stocky with tattoos on his arms, moved into the home in July. Hoyt said he could not recall the man's name, though he said he had broken up with a girlfriend after a long relationship.
The man would sit on his porch in the morning and drink coffee, Hoyt said. He was "a blue jeans and a T-shirt kind of guy," Hoyt said. "I don't really know anything bad to say because he seemed like a nice guy."
Worshipers had come to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday morning for morning services and meditation when the shooting started about 10:30 a.m.
Edwards said the gunman "ambushed" one of the first officers to arrive at the temple as the officer, a 20-year veteran tended to a victim outside. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot.
The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin started in 1997 with about 25 families who gathered in community halls in Milwaukee. Construction on the current temple in Oak Creek began in 2006, according to the temple's website.
Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with more than 700 reported incidents in the United States. Sikhs are not Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.
Michael Muskal is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Dan Hinkel is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
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