Officials: Temple Gunman Page Associated with 'Hate Group'

White-supremacist organization, Volksfront, denies Wade Page was member.

ByABC News
August 6, 2012, 8:14 AM

Aug. 6, 2012 — -- The Army veteran who opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was associated with a white-supremacist organization called Volksfront, described by a watchdog group as "virulently racist," law enforcement officials told ABC News.

The gunman, Wade Michael Page, 40, was shot dead by police Sunday, ending a murderous rampage that left six people dead and several wounded, including an Oak Creek police officer.

Volksfront issued a statement today saying that Page "has never been a member of, or associate of our organization," and called the killings "an act of demented criminal cowardice."

The group's website describes Volksfront as "fraternal brotherhood of white men."

The Anti-Defamation League, however, describes Volksfront as "a virulently racist and anti-Semitic group ... [and] the most active neo-Nazi group on the West Coast." It is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and has chapters across the country.

In 2007, an alleged member was found guilty for his role in an attack on an Oregon synagogue, in which a group of skinheads threw rocks and etched swastikas during a service.

Volksfront denied Page was a member, even calling him a "coward," but conceded that he may have been affiliated with other white-supremacist organizations.

"In our opinion Wade Page is a coward and disgrace to his people," the group said.

The "'White Nationalist' movement is fractured," Volksfront said in its statement. "Unfortunately not all organizations do their due diligence in controlling their rhetoric or enforcing a code of conduct and that allows rejects, outcasts and deviants to infiltrate certain segments of the loosely defined 'White Nationalist" movement."

Page was also the front man for the hardcore rock band End Apathy, whose music was distributed by Label 56, an independent record company that publishes white-supremacist music.

FBI agents today searched Page's former residence in Nashville, N.C., and interviewed associates and family members.

Page's family issued a text to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying it was "devastated by the horrific events."

"While there can be no words of comfort that will make sense of what happened that day, please be aware that our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families. We share in their grief," the text said.

Details of Page's seemingly angry life emerged today.

At an apartment building in Oak Creek, just miles from the scene of Sunday's bloody attack, one-time neighbor David Brown described Page as loud and unfriendly.

"Very standoffish. He didn't communicate at all," Brown told ABC News.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, about a 1.5. He's not real friendly," Brown said. "He wouldn't be easy to meet and talk to."

Brown said Page moved into the apartment building in April along with a woman he believed was the shooter's then girlfriend.

"He was a little surly. I didn't pay much attention to him," Brown said.

Brown said Page would routinely blast loud music and was sometimes seen carrying a long case, he assumed held musical equipment like a keyboard.

"He got more quiet the longer he lived here. The first week or two, I'd say 'hi' and he'd smile a little. Then the smiles went away," he said.

Page was described by authorities today as an Army veteran who left the service with a general discharge following a "pattern of misconduct," including being AWOL and drunk while on duty. The terms of his discharge would not allow him to reenlist.

He served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998, during which he was demoted from sergeant to specialist.

While in the Army Wade served in Ft. Bliss in Texas and at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Wade's job was as a Hawk missile system repairman, and he then became a psychological operations specialist, a defense official confirmed to ABC news.

Officials said they believe Page alone was responsible for Sunday's shooting. This morning they distributed a photograph of an unknown man they described as "person of interest." Later in the day, the FBI confirmed it had contacted the man and ruled out any involvement.

Page is believed to be the gunman who opened fire on people at the Sikh temple around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and killed six people. The victims ranged in age from 39 to 84.

He also ambushed police Lt. Brian Murphy, shooting him eight or nine times, Edwards said. Murphy is expected to survive. Two other gunshot victims are in critical condition, police said.

Page was shot dead by police when he was ordered to drop his weapon and began firing at them instead.

Police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, but Teresa Carlson, the FBI's special agent in charge, said today, "We are looking at ties to white supremacist groups."

Earlier, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco; Firearms Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists.

The Southern Poverty Law Center determined that in 2000, Page attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi group the National Alliance, described as America's then "most important hate group."

In 2010, Page gave an interview to Label 56, discussing his music and band End Apathy.

"The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole," Page told Label 56.

The ATF today said Page legally purchased the 9mm handgun with multiple ammunition magazines he used during the rampage. The weapon was bought at The Shooters Shop in West Allis, Wisc., sources told ABC News.

Carlson and other officials said investigators had no "reason to believe" Page was planning Sunday's attack.

"We didn't have an active investigation into him prior to yesterday," she told reporters today.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards praised the work of his officers, saying they "stopped a tragic event that could've been a lot worse."

Four people were found dead inside the temple and two others were found dead outside the building.

Edwards said authorities were treating the event as a domestic terrorism incident and the FBI would be conducting a full investigation.

Individuals attending Sunday services at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, just south of Milwaukee, fled in all directions this morning when a gunman entered and began firing. Many hid in bathrooms or other rooms within the temple while the shooter attacked, according to police.

The president of the temple, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was preparing to deliver remarks when he became one of the shooting victims. His son, Amardeep Kaleka, spoke by phone with ABC News shortly after getting a call from the priest using his father's phone.

"I picked it up immediately thinking it was my dad, but it was the priest and he was standing right next to him," Kaleka said. "He told me right away that right now my father can't speak. There's too much blood coming out of his back area and we have to get ambulances in there right away."

Soon, he heard briefly from his mother, also in hiding in the temple and asking for information about his father.

For images of the police response and ripples of shock and grief at the scene, click here.