US Gurudwara gunman served in army, had a 9/11 tattoo

Aug 07, 2012, 07:20 IST | Agencies

The shooter was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and was wearing black pants with pockets to store ammunition

The nation was stunned on Sunday when a symbol of American freedom — a Wisconsin house of worship — became the scene of a “domestic terrorism” bloodbath. The gunman who killed six Sikh worshippers at their gurudwara in Wisconsin before being shot dead by police has been named as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year old discharged army veteran.

According to US Army sources, Page enlisted in April 1992 and given a “less-than-honorable discharge” in October 1998. American officials and the FBI raided a duplex on Monday morning thought to belong to the gunman, described as a tall, bald, tattooed white man in his 40s, who opened fire on Sikhs just before Sunday services had begun.

Sikhs shout anti-US slogans in front of the US consulate in Hyderabad. Pics/AFP

Witnesses to the shooting and neighbours said that he had had a tattoo marking the September 11 2001 attacks. Thomas Ahern, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Special Agent said the suspect had tattoos that led the authorities to investigate whether he was a “skinhead or white supremacist”.

“It is being investigated. And what his tattoos signified is being investigated. They are all pieces of a possible puzzle to learn what was his motive in carrying out such a horrific act,” he said.

Tears and anger: People console each other at the command center near the gurudwara in Wisconsin where yesterday Wade Michael Page fired upon people at a service.

Teresa Carlson, the FBI’s Milwaukee Special Agent in charge of the investigation said: “While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time.”

Officials said the gunman had entered the kitchen of the gurudwara. After opening fire on the worshippers and killing four people, the gunman ambushed and shot a police officer. A second officer shot and killed the gunman. “The officer stopped a tragic event that could’ve been a lot worse,” said John Edwards, the Oak Creek police chief.

There is suspicion in the Sikh community that they targeted because they were mistaken for Muslims. “I think it is a case of mistaken identity. Sikhs are often mistaken to be from the Middle East,” said Manpreet Singh Badal, founder-president of People’s Party of Punjab.

“America is a place where you have the occasional loony, the misguided lot, firing randomly at vulnerable people.” The attack came just two weeks after a gunman killed 15 people at a theatre in Colorado, where they were watching a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. 

Gurudwara president died a ‘Hero’: Son
The president of the gurudwara died trying to stop the gunman who killed six during the Sunday rampage. Satwant Kaleka, president of the gurudwara in Wisconsin, tried grabbing the suspect to try and stop the gunfire, said family members. “The FBI told me specifically, ‘Your father must have been a hero because he at least slowed him down in order for people to get to safety’,” Kaleka's son, Amardeep Kaleka, said.

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