Shooting at Wisconsin temple was ‘domestic terrorism’
The gunman who killed six people inside a Sikh temple in America was army veteran Wade Michael Page, 40, who a civil rights group identified as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” that led a white supremacist group.
Police said yesterday that Sunday morning’s attack, during which Page was shot dead by a police officer, was an act of domestic terrorism.
The FBI said there was no reason to think anyone else was involved in the attack, and they were not aware of any past threat made against the temple.
Page joined the army in 1992 and was discharged in 1998, according to a defence official.
The gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and opened fire as several dozen people prepared for Sunday morning services, witnesses said. Six were killed, and three were critically wounded.
The gunman used a legally purchased 9mm handgun and multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities confirmed.
Civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi”. He reportedly told a white supremacist website in an interview in 2010 he had been part of the white power music scene since 2000, when he left his native Colorado, and started a band, End Apathy, in 2005.
He told the website his “inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole,” according to the SPLC, but he did not mention violence in that interview.
“We never thought this could happen to our community,” said Devendar Nagra, 48, whose sister escaped injury by hiding as the gunman fired in the temple’s kitchen. “We never did anything wrong to anyone.”
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said the gunman “ambushed” one of the first officers to arrive at the temple as the officer tended to a victim outside, shooting him eight to nine times with a handgun at close range. A second officer then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was fatally shot.
The wounded officer was in critical condition along with two other victims yesterday, authorities said. Police said the officer was expected to survive.
Tactical units went through the temple and found four people dead inside and two outside, in addition to the killer.
Jatinder Mangat, 38, nephew of the temple’s president, said his uncle was among those shot, but he did not know the extent of his injuries.
Gurpreet Kaur, 24, said her mother was among a group of about 14 other women preparing a meal in the temple kitchen when the gunman entered and started firing. Ms Kaur said her mother felt two bullets fly by her as the group fled to the pantry. Her mother suffered what Ms Kaur thought was shrapnel wound in her foot.
“These are people I’ve grown up with,” she said. “They’re like aunts and uncles to me. To see our community to go through something like this is numbing.”
President Barack Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama are “deeply saddened” by the killings and promised his administration will provide “whatever support is necessary” to those investigating the shooting.
“As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family,” the president said.
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