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Sikh temple shooting: Gun shop owner says Wade Page seemed normal

August 08, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Kim Murphy
  • A mourner visits the makeshift memorial near the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.
A mourner visits the makeshift memorial near the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin… (Darren Hauck / Getty Images )

OAK CREEK, Wis. -- Wade Michael Page, the man investigators say killed six people and critically wounded three others at a Sikh temple Sunday before dying in a shootout with police, did not appear dangerous when he bought a handgun at a shop last month, the shop owner says.

Kevin Nugent, owner of the Shooters Shop, about eight miles southwest of Milwaukee in West Allis, Wis., told The Times that Page came looking for a handgun on July 28.

“He asked about a 9 millimeter,” Nugent said Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Gunman opened fire at Sikh temple

Nugent said Page did not look strange and appeared calm.

“He didn’t have a shaved head or 9/11 tattoo. He didn’t talk stupid or act stupid,” Nugent said. “He raised no eyebrows whatsoever.”

Nugent, who runs one of the few gun shops in the area that boasts a large selection, said he reserves the right not to sell to customers who appear irate or under the influence. Page was neither, he said.

“We’re very strict,” he added.

Nugent ran a background check that day, and Page was cleared for purchase.

“All the proper channels for authorization were followed,” he said. “Nothing we could do would have stopped this.”

Page paid $650 cash for a Springfield Armory XDM  with three 19-round ammunition magazines, which Nugent called “a nice duty weapon.” Page picked up the gun at the shop two days later, took it down to the shop’s basement range for some target practice, and left soon after without incident, Nugent said. He said Page did not buy any other firearms or ammunition at the store.

Nugent said he has since been interviewed by officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He shared with them shop surveillance video that shows Page buying the gun.

“I watched the video of the guy — he was very normal,” Nugent said.

Late Tuesday, ATF Special Agent Thomas Ahern confirmed that Wade’s weapon had been purchased at Nugent’s shop.

Ahern also told The Times that local investigators had asked the ATF to trace a second gun. It turned out to belong to Wade’s ex-girlfriend, Misty Cook. She was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion  of being a felon in possession of a gun. 

According to court records, Brenda Misty Cook was convicted in 2005 of fleeing a traffic officer in  Milwaukee County.  She was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and served 97 days in jail.

Cook shared Wade’s fascination with the white power movement, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors extremist groups. The ADL had information on Page and Cook going back several years, and ADL researchers said Page appeared to have moved to Wisconsin to be with her.

In an e-mail to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cook said she could not comment and asked for privacy. Here's her full statement:

"In light of this senseless tragedy, I must respectfully decline any requests for comments. If I could say something to ease the pain of the victims and their families I would gladly do so. Unfortunately words do not begin to heal the pain they are going through. I ask that you please respect my privacy in dealing with this issue as it is a great struggle for me."

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