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Officials name suspect in deadly Sikh temple shooting

August 06, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Michael Muskal

OAK CREEK, Wisc. -- Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran who was a “psychological operations specialist,” was identified as the gunman in a deadly Sikh temple shooting, officials said Monday morning.

As authorities searched for a motive in the Sunday attack, the first picture of the assailant began to emerge. Page died in a shootout with police outside the temple in suburban Milwaukee. In all, seven people, including the suspect, were dead and three others were critically wounded in what police have labeled an act of domestic terrorism.

Page had served in the Army from April 1992 to October 1998. His last rank when he was discharged was specialist E-4, an Army spokeswoman said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times. He had no deployments overseas, she said.

PHOTOS: Gunman opened fire at Sikh temple

Page did his training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, then was transferred to Fort Bliss in Texas, finishing his career at Fort Bragg where he served as a “psychological operations specialist,” she said. There were no immediate details on what were his duties.

Among his awards were the Army commendation medal; five Army achievement medals; two Army good conduct medals; a National Defense Service medal; and a Humanitarian Service medal, according to the Pentagon. Page had also received a parachutist badge, indicating he had successfully attended training.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards on Monday declined to confirm the identity of the attacker, whom he called a “lone shooter.” Edwards was scheduled to speak at a news conference later in the morning.

“We believe this is the only person” responsible for the shooting, Edwards said, although he could not say how the man traveled to the temple or whether his tattoos indicated he belonged to a hate group.

“We don't have any indication of anyone else there” at the scene, Edwards said, adding the shooter “hasn't been in the area that long.”

 He said two victims remain in intensive care, one in grave condition and one in serious condition.

Meanwhile, the FBIand police continued their investigation at the 3700 block of East Holmes Street in Cudahy, Wisc.

“While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time,” Teresa Carlson, special agent in charge with the agency's Milwaukee division, said in a statement.

Worshipers had come to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday morning for services and meditation when the shooting started about 10:30 a.m.

Edwards said the gunman “ambushed” one of the first officers to arrive at the temple as the officer, a 20-year veteran, tended to a victim outside. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot.

The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin started in 1997 with about 25 families who gathered in community halls in Milwaukee. Construction on the current temple in Oak Creek began in 2006, according to the temple's website.

Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with more than 700 reported incidents in the United States. Sikhs are not Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.

PHOTOS: Gunman opened fire at Sikh temple

Tribune staff writer Daniel l. Hinkel contributed to this report from Cudahy, Wisc.

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