At least six people have been killed and three critically injured by one confirmed gunman at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a Gurdwara, in what appeared to be a hate crime in Oak Creek, a quiet suburb of Milwaukee on 5.08.2012. The White House confirmed that a police officer killed the lone gunman and “the situation at the Sikh Temple is under control.” Of the victims, five are Sikh men and one woman, ranging in age from 39 to 84.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards confirmed that Page, who hailed from a neighbouring community, was a “six-year Army enlistee,” who shot the first police officer to arrive on the scene “eight or nine times at close range” after the officer went to assist a victim in a nearby parking lot. After Page continued to fire at arriving police and refused to drop his weapon an officer fatally shot him with a squad rifle, Chief Edwards said.
U.S. President Barack Obama ordered flags to fly at half-staff at the White House and other federal buildings in honour of the victims of the shooting at the Gurdwara.
He added that it would in that case be important for Americans to reaffirm that “regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another.”
Meanwhile Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Nirupama Rao, confirmed that Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was on a visit to South Africa.
Mr. Krishna was said to have conveyed the “deep distress felt by the government and people of India on the tragic killings of innocent worshippers at the Gurudwara.” Ms. Clinton expressed her sense of shock, sadness and personal condolence at the tragedy, the embassy added.
Several other political leaders paid tribute to the Sikh community and pledged their support at this difficult time. Congressman Joe Crowley, Democrat of New York, said, “I join the people of Wisconsin and the entire Sikh-American community in mourning. There is no room in any society for such violence.”
As more details emerged about the Wisconsin gurdwara slayer’s ‘neo-Nazi’ leanings, the FBI intensified its probe into his links to white supremacists to ascertain the motive for the former soldier to unleash his hatred on Sikh worshippers.
Wade Michael Page (40), a U.S. Army veteran, has been identified as the suspect in a shooting incident at a gurdwara in Oak Creek. Six members of the Sikh community were killed and dozens injured in the attack. After receiving a “general discharge” from the military, he was “ineligible for reenlistment.” Unconfirmed reports suggested that Page was “demoted” in rank from sergeant to specialist, but no reason for this was given. Earlier they noted that the man behind the killings was a tall, balding, white male with one or more tattoos, some related to the 9/11 terror attacks. Such accounts prompted questions about whether this had been a hate crime.
In particular, media reports mentioned the possibility that the alleged killer had confused Sikhs with Muslims, as was the case in numerous attacks on Sikhs in the U.S. that have occurred since the 2001 terror attack.
Particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of the U.S. was quoted as saying “Much of the slander and hate in the past, was directed under the misapprehension that Sikhs follow the religion of Islam.”
Wade Michael Page’s neighbours said he rarely left his one-bedroom house where he lived alone and never made eye contact, but civil organisations which had been monitoring his actions described the 40-year-old as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” who had been the leader of a white-power band.
The FBI said they were looking into Page’s ties to white supremacist groups but insisted there had been no warning signals for investigators to believe he was plotting something so vicious.
Special Agent Teresa Carlson, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Milwaukee office, said the gunman was the subject of a “domestic terrorism” probe.
It has emerged that the army veteran had regularly attended hate events, was an ardent believer in the white supremacist movement and was associated with rock bands whose violent music talked about murdering Jews and black people.
The director of Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, Heidi Beirich, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from well-known hate group National Alliance.
Page said in a 2010 interview posted on the website of the record company Label56 that his music was about “how the value of human life has been degraded by tyranny.” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a New York Times report that the music that comes from the kind of bands Page was affiliated with is “incredibly violent, and it talks about murdering Jews, black people, gay people and a whole host of other enemies.”
According to SITE Monitoring Service which follows white supremacist trends, Page had an extensive presence on white nationalist websites.
It is to be noted that this shooting incident comes took weeks after a shooting rampage at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado at the screening of “The Dark Knight Rises, the last part of the Batman trilogy.
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