10:52am

Wed August 8, 2012
U.S.

Motive in Sikh Temple Shooting May Remain A Mystery

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 6:20 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There are some new developments in the case of the Wisconsin man who opened fire on a Sikh temple last Sunday. The man at the center of the attack is a 40-year-old Army veteran named Wade Michael Page. Page killed six people at the temple and wounded three others, including a police officer. Page himself died at the scene.

One reason why the FBI and local police are having to piece together clues to his motive, they think it may have had something to do with Wade Page's ties to the white power movement. The FBI held a press conference this hour to clarify what they do and do not know. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is here with the latest. Good morning.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: And what do the FBI have to say this morning?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, Teresa Carlson is a special agent in charge of the FBI in the Milwaukee field office, and she said that they'd already conducted hundreds of interviews since Sunday. And just to give you the scope of this, they've issued almost 200 federal subpoenas and 101 leads are pending as of this morning. So this is a really big investigation. And they have not clearly defined a motive at this point. There was no video in the temple itself. Apparently, their surveillance camera wasn't on.

And we understand, for the first time, that Page was not shot to death by a police officer, but died as a result of a self-inflicted wound. He shot himself in the head.

MONTAGNE: Now, there have been some reports that he became a white supremacist while he was stationed at Fort Bragg in the Army years ago. What did the FBI have to say about that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, they didn't talk about that specifically, but we've been doing reporting on this and Wade Page was in the Army from 1992 to 1998, when he was administratively discharged from the military. He was a sergeant but he was busted down over the course of a couple of years to specialist. And we found that he was not discharged from the Army because of racist views. It had to do with his conduct.

Stars and Stripes reported this morning that he was a white supremacist when he was stationed at Fort Bragg in 1995, then, and at the time, Fort Bragg was having some white supremacy issues. Twenty-one soldiers were identified as white supremacists there shortly after a skinhead soldier was convicted of murdering a black couple. And the Army tried to track down anyone with extremist tattoos after that, but they seemed to have missed Wade Page. His tattoos included the number 14 tattooed on his shoulder, and that's supposed to be a reference to the 14-word credo of skinheads, which is basically about protecting the white race.

The paper also reported that he drove a VW Thing, and it was painted red with white trim and black tires, to kind of mirror the Nazi flag. But the FBI hasn't confirmed any of this as part of their investigation.

MONTAGNE: Now, the police arrested his ex-girlfriend last night. Misty Cook is her name. Is she a suspect in this case?

TEMPLE-RASTON: No. Apparently, she's also been linked to white supremacist groups, though she hasn't been tied to the shooting in any way. The FBI said she was arrested because she's a felon and when they went to talk to her, they found a firearm in her possession. So, she was arrested for that. And the special agent in charge of the Milwaukee FBI office, Teresa Carlson, said that there were no other suspects in the case.

MONTAGNE: And, Dina, just briefly, are we any closer this morning to understanding why he did it?

TEMPLE-RASTON: No. It's pretty clear that they still have a lot they don't know about this case. You know, he was a band member on the fringes of the white power music scene and he did some blogging on some white supremacist websites. But that hasn't been enough to really lead them to a motive.

MONTAGNE: Dina, thanks very much.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston on an FBI press conference this morning regarding Wade Michael Page, the man who killed six people at a Sikh temple this last Sunday. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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