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Sikh Temple Shooter: Strong Ties to White Supremacist Groups

Common Dreams staff

An anonymous federal official released the identity of Sunday's Sikh Temple massacre gunman on Monday as US military veteran Wade Michael Page, 40. Page began a shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee on Sunday, leaving six people dead and three others critically wounded in what police are calling an act of domestic terrorism. Wade was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers.

According to the source, Page was a US Army "psychological operations specialist," who served between April 1992 and October 1998, ending his career at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

A defense official said the suspect was discharged from the Army in 1998, but he declined to say whether Page received an honorable discharge.

Officials originally described the suspect as a bald, heavy-set, 40-year-old Caucasian with numerous tattoos referencing white supremacist messages.

On Monday the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Reuters that Wade had been a member of the racist skinhead band End Apathy, based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 2010. Photos from the band's Myspace website page show Wade playing in the band. Wade also tried to buy goods from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, in 2000, the Center revealed.

"That's all we know about Wade. We are still digging through our files," Heidi Beirich of the Center stated.

Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11.

Valarie Kaur, who chronicled violence against Sikh Americans in the 2006 documentary "Divided We Fall," told CBS news, that even though the gunman's motives are not yet confirmed, the shootings reopened wounds in a community whose members have found themselves frequent targets of hate-based attacks since Sept. 11.

"We are experiencing it as a hate crime," she said. "Every Sikh American today is hurting, grieving and afraid."

On Monday, Police were searching the residence of the gunman at a duplex in the Cudahy neighborhood near Milwaukee.

The names of the victims have not yet been made public.

Authorities said the gunman had used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which was recovered at the scene. Wisconsin has some of the weakest gun laws in the country and passed a law in 2011 allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon.

"But we know the more assault weapons we distribute the more situations like this we will have," Jagjit Singh Kaleka, the brother of the president of the temple, who was among the six Sikhs killed, said. A US ban on assault weapons was allowed to expire by lawmakers in 2004. The attack came just over two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, where they were watching a screening of new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

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