OAK CREEK, Wis. – Before he strode into a Sikh temple with a 9 mm handgun and multiple magazines of ammunition, Wade Michael Page played in white supremacist heavy metal bands with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy.
The bald, heavily tattooed bassist was a 40-year-old Army veteran who trained in psychological warfare before he was demoted and discharged more than a decade ago.
A day after he killed six worshippers at the suburban Milwaukee temple, fragments of Page’s life emerged in public records and interviews. But his motive was still largely a mystery. So far, no hate-filled manifesto has emerged, nor any angry blog or ranting Facebook entries to explain the attack.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards suggested Monday that investigators might never know for certain why the lone attacker targeted a temple full of strangers.
We have a lot of information to decipher, to put it all together before we can positively tell you what that motive is – if we can determine that, Edwards said.
Page, who was shot to death by police, joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged in 1998. He was described Monday by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a frustrated neo-Nazi who had long been active in the obscure underworld of white supremacist music.
Page wrote frequently on white supremacist websites, describing himself as a member of the Hammerskins Nation, a skinhead group rooted in Texas that has offshoots in Australia and Canada, according to the SITE Monitoring Service, a private intelligence firm in Maryland that searches the Internet for terrorist and other extremist activity.
In online forums, Page promoted his music while interacting with other skinheads. He posted 250 messages on one site between March 2010 and the middle of this year, and appeared eager to recruit others.
In March 2011, he advertised for a family friendly barbecue in North Carolina, extolling those online to attend.
In an April message, Page said: Passive submission is indirect support to the oppressors. Stand up for yourself and live the 14 words, a reference to a common white supremacists mantra.
In the Army, Page was a psychological operations specialist assigned to a battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Page was demoted in June 1998 for getting drunk while on duty and going AWOL, two defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information about the gunman.
Suburban Milwaukee police had no contact with Page before Sunday, and his record gave no indication he was capable of such intense violence.