Sikh shooter's family saw kind side

Aug. 7, 2012 at 5:30 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

OAK CREEK, Wis., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Family and friends of Wade Michael Page, the slain Oak Creek, Wis., Sikh temple shooter, described him as "gentle and kind and loving."

"He was gentle and kind and loving and he was a happy person and a happy child. And what happened, God only knows, because I don't," Page's stepmother, Laura, told CBS. "When he lived in Texas with us, he had Hispanic friends and he had black friends. You know, there was none of that."

Laura is not alone in her puzzlement at the portrait painted of her 40-year-old stepson, just days after Page opened fire at an Oak Creek Sikh temple, killing six and injuring three, including a responding officer. Page was killed by a responding officer.

Elaine Lenz, Page's grandmother, said, "he was just a nice person."

"I can't understand him taking six other people's lives," she added.

However others were less surprised by revelations Page was a white supremacist.

Christopher Robillard described Page as his "closest friend" in the Army. Page served from 1992 until his discharge in 1998 following a "pattern of misconduct," that included habitual drunkenness while on duty, The Washington Post reported.

Robillard said while Page was "one of those guys with a soft spot," he acknowledged his friend "was involved in white supremacy."

"He would talk about the racial holy war, like he wanted it to come," Robillard told CNN. "But to me, he didn't seem like the type of person to go out and hurt people."

In 1999, Page pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in Denver. The Denver Post reported he served 60 days in jail.

Page sold his possessions in 2000 and hit the road on his motorcycle, leaving his native Colorado to trek across the country, eventually settling in North Carolina. In a 2010 interview, he said he attended "Hammerfest" along the way, a white-power music festival the Anti-Defamation League calls "a virtual Woodstock of hate rock."

He became active in the white-power music scene as a guitarist and vocalist. He led bands with names like "Define Hate" and "End Apathy," and told an interviewer in 2010 he started "End Apathy" because, "the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to."

However, Page's drinking problems followed him from the service to his job as a trucker for Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation from 2006 to 2010. He was fired for a drunken driving citation in North Carolina. Barr-Nunn confirmed Tuesday Page was driving his own vehicle at the time.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported Page's band performed a 2007 show in South Carolina under a giant swastika flag bearing the likeness of World War II-era Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler.

CBS reported Page turned up in federal investigations a number of times, although never as a target. However, the center said it had been monitoring Page since 2000.

"This guy was in the thick of the white-supremacist music scene," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the center. "He was not a fringe player. He was well known in the scene and played in some of the best-known bands."

SITE, an organization that monitors radical groups online, reported much of Page's online posts, meant to promote his bands, made references to "the 14 words," two 14-word-long supremacist mantras.

The first: "We must secure the existence of our people and the future for White Children." The second: "Because the beauty of the White Aryan women must not perish from the earth."

He also often referred to the number 88 -- a code for "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter in the alphabet.

SITE reported a flurry of activity on white supremacist Web sites following Sunday's massacre, with many posts urging people to "stop talking and start doing."

Page's record label, Label 56, released a statement expressing sympathy for the victims' families, concluding:

"With that being said, all images and products related to End Apathy have been removed from our site. We do not wish to profit from this tragedy financially or with publicity."

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories