FBI: Seeking second ‘person of interest’ in Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting (Also with 911 tattoo) – UPDATED COVERAGE THREAD
JS Online (Milwaukee Sentinel)
A man with a 9/11 tattoo looks at his cell phone Sunday after taking video of media, friends and relatives gathered by police in a parking lot near the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Authorities are attempting to identify the man, who they described as “a person of interest.”
These dispatches offer a glimpse into the first 30 minutes of the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting. Jump to the times listed below to listen to scanner traffic by Milwaukee County emergency responders.
- 3:30 – First dispatch from Sikh Temple shooting
- 4:50 – “A bald male with glasses may have shot someone.”
- 8:34 – “Man with a gun” (sounds of gunshots)
- 10:55 – “Subject is not moving”
- 11:15 – “We have one officer shot”
- At least 7 dead, including shooter, at Sikh Temple
- Victims: Remembered as loving, dedicated, deeply religious
- Gunman: Shooter described as white, Army vet in his 40s
- Religion: Sikh faith stresses prayer, equality
- Vigil: Hundreds gather at vigil for victims
- Audio: Emergency radio traffic describes shootings
- Reactions: Obama, Romney, Walker condemn shooting, offer prayers
- Motive: Speculation of Sikh hate crime unconfirmed, but not unspoken
- History: Killings mark 5th mass murder in state since 2004
- Neighbor: ‘I kept talking to him to make sure he was conscious’
- Storify: How the story unfolded on social media
- Twitter: Tweets about the shooting
- Special Section: Sikh Temple shooting
The shooter who open fired before worship services Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek and killed six people before he was killed by police is Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran, U.S. Attorney James A. Santelle said Monday.
He said officials believe he purchased the 9 mm handgun legally in Wisconsin.
At a news conference at 10 a.m., authorities said they were attempting to identify another person, a white male, who they described as “a person of interest.”
A man matching the photo officials showed was seen by Journal Sentinel reporters at the scene of the temple Sunday, possibly video taping what was going on. Anyone with information on the man is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Page, 40, served in the military approximately between 1992 and 1998, Santelle said.
Other sources familiar with the shooting investigation said Wade was assigned to psychological operations, or PsyOps.
At the news briefing in Oak Creek, officials identified the Oak Creek police officer who was shot when he responded to the temple as Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, an experienced member of the department’s tactical unit.
Murphy was a finalist for the Oak Creek police chief post in 2010.
Satwant Singh Kaleka, the temple president, was killed Sunday after attempting to tackle the gunman. Kaleka’s brother-in-law, Deepir Singh Dhaliwal, identified the other victims Monday as: Sita Singh and Ranjit Singh, who are brothers; Subage Singh, Parmjit Kaur and Parkash Singh.
Group says it has tracked Page for years
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has studied hate crimes for decades, reported Monday that Page was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band known as End Apathy.
Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s intelligence project, said her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group.
The National Alliance was led by William Pierce, who was the author of “The Turner Diaries.” The book depicts a violent revolution in the United States leading to an overthrow of the federal government and, ultimately, a race war. Parts of the book were found in Timothy McVeigh’s getaway car after the bombing of the federal building Oklahoma City in 1995.
Beirich said there was “no question” Page was an ardent follower and believer in the white supremacist movement. She said her center had evidence that he attended “hate events” around the country.
“He was involved in the scene,” she said.
Pierce is dead, and Beirich said the National Alliance is no longer considered to be an influential group.
Also on Monday, a volunteer human-rights group called Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) found links between Page, his band and a white supremacist website called Stormfront.
Jeffrey Imm, who heads R.E.A.L., said in an interview Monday that someone based in Milwaukee using the name “End Apathy” began posting on the website in February 2008. Additionally, appearances by Page’s band were promoted on the Stormfront site, including a white supremacist gathering in March 2012 in Richmond, Va.
Santelle, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, said he believed Page left the Army under a general discharge, but wasn’t sure what that indicated about his service.
Officials at the Army’s national records center in St. Louis said the FBI took Page’s military records Sunday night.
Wade has ties to Colorado and North Carolina, Santelle said, but investigators are not certain what brought him to the Milwaukee area.
It’s unclear how long he was in Wisconsin before he began renting a duplex in the 3700 block of E. Holmes Ave. in Cudahy starting in July.
Santelle said he didn’t believe Wade had a criminal record. He added that investigators are still tracing the history of the 9 mm handgun Wade used. But Santelle said that he thought it had been purchased legally in Wisconsin.
Page gunned down six worshippers at the temple and shot and injured an Oak Creek police officer who was helping a victim before a second Oak Creek officer shot and killed Page.
Three people, including the officer, were injured in the shooting.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said the officer, Murphy, was shot eight or nine times, at least once in the neck. He is in critical condition, but officials have said they expect him to survive.
The gun used in the temple shooting has been traced by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Tom Ahern, spokesman for the agency. Under an urgent trace request, the ATF has determined the original buyer of the weapon. Ahern said it is up to Oak Creek police to release information on the gun purchase.
Law enforcement officials have been investigating the Cudahy duplex where Page lived. The block on E. Holmes Ave. was cordoned off for a time Sunday night as officials investigated inside, and residents were evacuated from their homes.
The officers came out of the duplex around midnight, carrying large items.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said investigators carefully searched the house because they were concerned it might be booby-trapped.
At the Monday news conference, FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson said investigators were able to make safe entry to the gunman’s Cudahy residence. She provided no details of what they found.
She said there was no indication the suspect was capable of such violence.
Page described as quiet, “not a friendly guy”
Page is believed to have worked as a truck driver with Granger, Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation, from about April 2006 to August 2010 while living in Fayetteville, N.C. An employee at the company said he left “involuntarily” but declined to elaborate.
The Cumberland County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department said Page was issued a gun permit in April 2008.
He was described at the time as 5-10, 210 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He was single and had a scar on his stomach and tattoos, including lettering on his hands, a Celtic knot on his back and fire on his leg.
The only criminal contact the department had on Page was a charge of writing a worthless check in October 1997.
In Cudahy, Amber Young, 14, said she saw the suspect walking his dog, a black Labrador, on several occasions and that Page had a 9/11 tattoo on his upper right arm. “He was walking his dog and it was right there,” she said pointing to her own upper right arm.
The tattoo said, “9/11″ and “had a bunch of descriptions and stuff,” Amber Young said.
Before moving to the Cudahy address, Page lived for a time earlier this year in a South Milwaukee.
David Brown, 62, a neighbor who lived in the same South Milwaukee apartment building earlier this year, said Page was a recluse. He was “not a friendly guy,” he said. “You’d have more fun with a camel.”
“He was very quiet. You’d say hi and he’d kind of ‘uh.’ It was like he didn’t care if you were talking or not.”
Brown saw Page driving a plain white delivery truck several times. Page lived in apartment No. 5 with his girlfriend, Misty, who was going to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and who has an autistic son, and whose father helped out with child care and car maintenance.
Page liked to play music at odd hours of the night and work out in the basement with free weights.
Brown saw him there when he went to do laundry. “I never saw him carry a gun,” said the former navy officer who is retired from working in aviation electronics.
Page and his girlfriend moved out about four or five months ago.
“He didn’t seem mean. It was kind of like he was angry at the world. But I’m not a psychiatrist,” Brown said.
Chaotic scene Sunday at temple
The mass shooting occurred sometime before 10:30 a.m. Sunday, as members of the temple prepared for a weekly worship service that was to begin at 11:30 a.m. The first 911 calls were recorded at 10:26 a.m.
Dozens of people were already at the temple when the gunman began his rampage, which some authorities are describing as a domestic terrorist incident. But FBI representatives later backed away from that categorization, saying they were still investigating motive.
Police arrived at the temple, 7512 S. Howell Ave., within three minutes of the initial 911 call, with a dispatcher telling officers it was a report of an altercation. But a minute later the dispatcher added that there were reports of gunshots. Shortly after, she told them that “a bald male with glasses may have shot someone.”
The gunman acted alone, police said, but the reason for the attack remained unclear. Edwards said officers knocked on 200 doors Sunday in an effort to determine that there was not more than one shooter.
What is known about the attack is that it is believed to be the most deadly U.S. attack on Sikhs, who often have been mistaken for Muslims and targeted in hate crimes.
One firearm was recovered at the temple as well as multiple magazines.
According to a witness, the gunman first walked up to a priest who was standing outside, shot him, then entered the temple and began firing.
As the shooting erupted, women, children and men hid in the temple for more than an hour. They took refuge in restrooms and a pantry among other places.
As SWAT team members cleared the temple Sunday, authorities found four dead inside the temple and three dead outside the temple, including Page.
Survivors inside the temple were taken from the building about noon on Sunday.
Carlson, of the FBI, said it is unclear when the temple can be turned back to the Sikh community. Perhaps by Thursday, she said at the news conference.
The officer who was shot multiple times by Page underwent two surgeries at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa on Sunday, Edwards said, one of them lasting for five hours. Edwards on Monday said the officer was resting comfortably at the hospital with family by his side.
Two other men were taken to Froedtert Hospital with gunshot wounds. All were in critical condition.
Two members of the Sikh temple, Balbir Singh and Surinderpal Singh said Monday morning that members of the temple were gathering at the home of the temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka who was killed.
“We will be gathering with our friends and family there,” said Balbir Singh.
“There will be a household full of people,”said Surinderpal Singh.