he man police say walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday morning
and began firing at members of the congregation was a former Fort Bragg
soldier with two good conduct awards and five achievement medals.
He also was a songwriter and performer in the white-power rock music scene, who had played live and peddled his music and racist ideology on the Internet for years.
The Anti-Defamation League had been watching Wade Michael Page for a couple of years, but he had done nothing to indicate he might pose an imminent violent threat.
"Not at all," said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the group.
Police have not said what may have prompted Sunday's assault, in which six congregants of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin were killed. Page was shot and killed by a police officer at the scene.
But Pitcavage said the attack bears resemblance to others born of the violent beliefs of hardcore white supremacists, in which a group is targeted because they're not white.
"The white-supremacist movement in the United States today has long been associated with violence," he said. "And on a regular basis, adherents of this movement commit violent acts. There are murders every year. It's something that should cause people concern."
Long before he showed up on the radar of the Anti-Defamation League and another group that monitors hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page was a skilled soldier in a special operations unit.
He served in the Army from April 1992 to October 1998. He trained at Fort Sill, Okla., before being assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, and then to Fort Bragg. Bragg was Page's last post before he was administratively discharged, meaning he did not complete his term of service.
Lt. Col. Lisa A. Garcia, an Army spokeswoman in Washington, said privacy rules prohibited her from discussing the type of discharge under which Page left the military.
At the time of his discharge, Page was a psychological-operations specialist with a rank of E4. Garcia said psychological operations soldiers provide their commanders with the ability to communicate information to large audiences by radio, television, leaflets and loudspeakers. In the field, these soldiers rely on language skills, regional orientation and knowledge of communications media to deliver information.
Cleared background check
Garcia said Page never deployed.
In addition to his achievement medals and good conduct awards, Page had received the National Defense Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal and a Parachutist Badge.
It's not clear whether he remained in North Carolina after his discharge, but he was living in Fayetteville in May 2008, when he requested and was given four handgun permits from the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. The five-year permits required a criminal background check, which Page cleared.
Each permit also states that "The applicant has further satisfied me as to his ... good moral character."
A native of Colorado who said he had played music since the age of 13, Page told an interviewer for music producer Label 56 in 2010 that he became interested in the white-power music scene after selling everything he owned except his motorcycle and heading across the country to start over. Along the way, he said, he attended white-power concerts in Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Colorado.
He played with several other bands, he said, before launching his own solo act in 2005, later adding two more members. Page was the lead singer and wrote most of the lyrics, he said.
Once Page had been identified by police Monday as the suspected shooter in the Oak Creek, Wisc. incident, Label 56 stripped the interview off its website, along with music by Page and his band, End Apathy.
In his band's MySpace biography, Page said, "End Apathy began ... with roots in old school hardcore punk and metal influences. The music is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress."
The biography lists End Apathy as based in Nashville, N.C.
Joseph Rackley of Nashville told the Associated Press that Page lived with his son for about six months last year in a house on Rackley's property. He said he wasn't aware of any ties Page had to white supremacists.
"When he stayed with my son, I don't even know if Wade played music," Rackley told the AP. "But my son plays alternative music and periodically I'd have to call them because I could hear more than I wanted to hear."
Reached later by The N&O, Rackley said of Page, "He was a good guy, and I'll leave it at that."
After removing the End Apathy content from its website, Label 56 posted a statement saying it was "very sorry to hear about the tragedy in Wisconsin and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who are affected.
"We do not wish to profit from this tragedy financially or with publicity. In closing please do not take what Wade did as honorable or respectable and please do not think we are all like that."
It appears Page had moved to Wisconsin last year, possibly to be closer to his girlfriend.
Also last year, Pitcavage said, Page had been accepted as a member of the Hammerskins, a hardcore racist group started in Texas in the mid-1980s. Many of the events where Page and his bands played were sponsored by the Hammerskins, Pitcavage said, where up to 300 or so people might gather to party, listen to music and, sometimes, to a white-supremacist speaker.
Page had played with his other band, Definite Hate, at a St. Patrick's Day concert in Richmond, Va., as recently as March, Pitcavage said.
Aside from such invitation-only events, white-power music is available through mail-order purchase, Internet download, and Internet radio.
"Most of these are garage bands," Pitcavage said, and it's not clear how much of an effect they have on people who don't already believe in the ideas that the often violent lyrics espouse. By the genre's standards, he said, Page was successful, "meaning a few hundred people would come and listen to him."
Page's MySpace page currently highlights some of his recordings, including a song from January 2006. It's called "Self Destruct."
Staff writer Josh Shaffer and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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