Sikh temple Wisconsin shooting victims, suspect ID'd

August 6, 2012 9:24:12 PM PDT
The shooter in the killings at a Sikh temple Sunday has been identified as Wade Michael Page.

Page was an Army veteran. The Southern Law Poverty Center has identified him as the one-time leader of a white supremacist rock band, but the FBI says they know of nothing in his behavior that could have forecast Sunday's rampage.

The Oak Creek Police Department identified the victim's of the Sikh Temple shooting as 41-year-old Sita Singh, 49-year-old Ranjit Singh, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka who was the president of the temple, 39-year-old Prakash Singh, 84-year-old Suveg Singh, and the lone female, 41-year-old Paramjit Kaur.

Witnesses say Page walked into the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee, and opened fire as people prepared for Sunday services.

Page moved to the Milwaukee area not long ago. One of his former neighbors say he was someone who was far less than friendly.

Page worked at a metal factory near Oak Creek. He quit in mid-July. He legally purchased a 9mm handgun about a week ago. He took that 9mm semiautomatic and three ammo clips Sunday into the Sikh temple in Oak Creek with the clear intent of killing people.

When Page walked into the Sikh temple and opened fire, the men, women and children who had begun to gather for worship sought cover wherever they could find it, in closets, the pantry and the basement.

"Two kids came. They were playing in the lobby," said church member Harbans Singh. "They rushed in, and they cried, 'Shooting, shooting, shooting.' "

It is unclear whether Page said anything before he began shooting, and although this has the earmarks of a crime of hate, investigators for now are stopping just short of calling it such.

"We are investigating it as a possible domestic terrorism. However motive is still being assessed at this time," said FBI Milwaukee special agent in charge Teresa Carlson.

Page, 40, was in the Army for eight years. He was busted down in rank from sergeant to specialist when he was given a general discharge in 1998.

Investigators say they believe Page acted alone.

"At this time, we are not aware whether this is a hate crime or a random act of violence," said temple member Bhusinder Singh.

Temple members are in disbelief, reeling from the loss, which includes temple President Satwant Kaleka, who left India because of religious oppression and poured his life into his church. He tried to tackle Page during the shooting and was then shot to death.

"The moment he ran up and tried to struggle with that man and stabbed him with a butter knife, and hold him away from the women who were sitting -- my mother was in the closet calling us -- that moment he's trying his best to give time for people to get to security," said Anwardeep Kaleka, the temple president's son.

Mourners gathered Monday night at a service in Brookfield, Wis. to remember the six worshippers killed at Sunday's shooting. The service followed by a candlelight vigil. Hundreds of people from many faiths gathered to mourn the lost.

Among the hundreds in attendance at the service and candlelight vigil was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

"I wanted to be here and show our love, our support our appreciation for this community who has given so much to both this state and to this country," said Walker.

"We are all one but yet we are different, but different doesn't mean we are not together," said temple member Dr. Kanwar Singh.

Those in attendance also prayed for the three who were critically injured in the attack. Among them, another hero: Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy, a 21-year veteran of the force. Murphy was the first officer to arrive on the scene. He went to help one of the victim's when Page ambushed him and shot Murphy several times.

When Oak Creek Police backup arrived to help Murphy, he waved them off.

"He had been shot nine times, one of them very serious in the neck area, and he waved them off and told them to go into the temple to assist those in there," said Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards.

Murphy was in critical but stable condition Monday afternoon. Two members of the church, also critically wounded, remain in critical but stable condition.

Earlier Monday morning, the FBI released the photograph of a man who arrived at the scene of the shooting after the fact. The FBI was told the man acted suspiciously. They called him a "person of interest." That man has been tracked down and cleared.

The FBI and local police continue to operate with the belief that Page acted alone.

A small group of protesters gathered in New Delhi, India, Monday to condemn the shooting attack. The protesters shouted slogans criticizing America and burned posters of the U.S. flag. They called the shootings shameful and an attack on their community that they will not tolerate.

A wake and visitation for the victims will be held on Friday, August 10, from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. at Oak Creek High School gymnasium, 340 E. Puetz Rd, in Oak Creek, WI.

In lieu of flowers, a request has been made to donate to the victims' families memorial fund at http://www.wearesikhs.com, or to make checks payable to Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Tri City National Bank, 3378 S 27th St, Milwaukee, WI, 53215.

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