New Details Emerge About Sikh Temple Shooter

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The suspect in the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., reportedly had ties to a neo-Nazi organization and was a U.S. Army veteran. All Things Considered host Audie Cornish talks with NPR's Dina Temple-Raston about the latest news.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

We begin this hour with the latest on the man who killed six people and wounded three others Sunday inside a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.

JOHN EDWARDS: Yesterday at 10:25 a.m., we received our initial call from inside the Sikh temple that there was a problem going on and that somebody was firing inside of there.

CORNISH: That someone was a 40-year-old Army veteran named Wade Michael Page. He was eventually shot and killed by a police officer at the scene. NPR's counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston joins us with the latest. And, Dina, to begin, what have you learned about the gunman, Wade Michael Page?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, here's what we know for certain: We know that he joined the army in 1992 and was given what's called a general discharge in 1998. A general discharge is something below an honorable discharge. We know that he was classified ineligible for reenlistment, which usually means that there's some sort of conduct problem, although we don't know what the details of that in this case.

We do know from military sources that those conduct problems didn't have anything to do with bias or white supremacy. And there were some arrest records, but nothing remarkable in those - reckless driving, a DUI that was dismissed, a criminal mischief charge. We know that he had made the rank of sergeant. But when he left the military it was two ranks lower as a specialist, but we're not quite sure why. And we also know that he was in psychological operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But he left the military in 1998 and he was never posted overseas.

CORNISH: So, have they determined a motive?

TEMPLE-RASTON: No. They're working on that. I mean, there are some suggestions that he may have had some Neo-Nazi-white supremacist affiliations that could have started after he left the army. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a civil rights advocacy group, said that he'd been part of the white-power music scene since about the year 2000. He had started a band called End Apathy in 2005. And we have a little bit of their music from their MySpace page. And this is a song called "Self Destruct," which is pretty typical of white power music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SELF DESTRUCT")

END APATHY: (Singing) Self destruct, self destruct, self destruct, (unintelligible) self destruct...

TEMPLE-RASTON: You know, I have to say that as white power bands go, this band, End Apathy, seems to be more about anarchy and not trusting the government than singing about racism. As a general matter, white power music tends to be that loud but the lyrics much more racist. The Southern Poverty Law Center said that they had opened a file on Wade Michael Page. Law enforcement wouldn't confirm anything about the band, but the FBI said that he had popped up on their radar about six years ago. So, he wasn't completely unknown to them. But at the same time, he wasn't seen as a threat.

CORNISH: Now, Dina, the FBI is looking for another person of interest. They released his picture and wanted help identifying him. What's the latest with that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, that's all been resolved. Apparently, they located him. They interviewed him and they released him. What happened is there was an individual who was near the site of the temple shooting shortly after it happened and he was taking photographs. And they found that to be a bit suspicious. So they wanted to rule out that he had anything to do with the shooting.

The police and the FBI have executed search warrants and they're searching Page's apartment. And they're looking at his computer. And based on what they found there so far, the FBI believes at this point that this gunman acted alone.

CORNISH: Dina, we have some time here and I want to ask about the fact that local police are calling this a case of domestic terrorism. Why are they using that term?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, that's been a little misunderstood as well. I mean, local police asked the FBI to take the lead in this case. And that happens often when the jurisdiction of a case crosses state lines. The suspect here, or the gunman, he lived in North Carolina and Colorado and Wisconsin and Texas. So, that would be one reason that the FBI would take the lead, so they could basically do investigation across state lines.

The FBI also clearly has more resources than the local police. The whole idea of domestic terrorism isn't some big distinction they've made. I mean, they're still investigating whether it's domestic terrorism. Domestic terrorism basically requires two components - violence and a political motive. And at this point, we don't know what the motive is.

Now, the case got dubbed domestic terrorism because the domestic terrorism unit at the FBI is leading the investigation. But that's really an assignment issue, not a determination issue. The way it was explained to me is it made more sense for the domestic terrorism unit to investigate this case instead of, say, the mortgage fraud unit. So, we shouldn't read too much into it. They're still investigating.

CORNISH: NPR's counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston. Thanks so much, Dina.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.

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