Local News

Ex-boss says Sikh temple gunman wanted to join Klan

Posted August 7, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— The gunman who opened fire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday, killing six members, tried to join the Ku Klux Klan several years ago while living in Fayetteville, according to a former employer.

Wade Michael Page, 40, was stationed at Fort Bragg for part of his six years in the Army, which ended with a general discharge in 1998. Court records and other documents show he spent much of the time since then in central North Carolina, working at various jobs and playing music in so-called white-power rock bands.

John Tew hired Page to work in the parts department of Cape Fear Harley-Davidson in February 2003. Tew said Tuesday that Page was knowledgeable about motorcycles and was a disciplined worker.

"He was very quiet, kept to himself, was a very efficient worker. He brought some organization to the table," Tew said.

Page had "countless tattoos," including swastikas on his arms, Tew recalled.

"He dressed, in my opinion, just like a neo-Nazi-type person would dress," he said. "We're a motorcycle dealership, and a lot of people have long hair and tattoos and earrings. We understand that, so his body language didn't really bother us that bad."

Page's disrespect toward female supervisors did bother Tew, however, and he said the last straw came in August 2004, when a woman questioned Page about an order.

"He turned around and basically snapped and said, 'You know, I don't work for you,' and he just came unglued and cussed at her real bad," Tew said.

He fired Page on the spot and had him escorted out of the building, only for Page to say he left paperwork inside.

"It was an application to the KKK, and I got that application and destroyed it," Tew said. "He wanted to know where it was, and I said, 'We discarded it.'"

Cape Fear Harley-Davidson sign Ex-boss says Sikh temple gunman was 'just different'

Tew said he never heard Page utter racist remarks, and he never heard anything about him again until Sunday.

Police in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Wis., say Page was dressed in tactical gear and carried a 9-millimeter handgun with multiple magazines Sunday morning when he entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and began shooting.

He ambushed the first police officer to respond to the scene, shooting him eight or nine times as the officer attended to another shooting victim, police said. Other officers then exchanged gunfire with Page, killing him.

"It was shocking," Tew said. "Then, after I thought about it, I thought he might have been going down that trail, but you never know about people.

"He was just different. From day one, he was a different person from the last day. He just changed. I don't know what went on. He was always quiet, kept to himself."

Suspect part of white-power groups

Page played in two bands, End Apathy and Definite Hate, that the Anti-Defamation League has said were part of a music scene that caters to white supremacists.

His stepmother said she has no idea how he became involved in such groups.

"He was gentle and kind and loving and a happy person and a happy child," Laura Page said. "What happened? God only knows, because I don't."

Laura Page said she lost contact with Wade Page when she divorced his father about 12 years ago.

Wade Page happened to be at Fort Bragg when the Army discharged nearly two dozen soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division for being neo-Nazi skinheads. The move came after three soldiers killed a black couple in Fayetteville.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama says more than 1,000 hate groups now operate in the U.S., including 34 in North Carolina.

Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, said local authorities were never told that Page might be involved in any hate group. Shelley Lynch, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Charlotte, said the agency doesn't monitor an individual or group unless there's evidence of criminal behavior.

The worst offense Page had locally was an August 2010 driving while impaired charge that was later dismissed.

"The FBI is examining information that may have come to our attention previously," Lynch said in an email. "Law enforcement is challenged every day to balance the civil liberties of U.S. citizens against the need to investigate activities of possible criminal conduct."

The FBI has said Page acted alone in the rampage, but they haven't determined a motive for the shootings.

Members of the Sikh religion have been the targets of hate crimes more than 700 times since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the New York-based Sikh Coalition. The group also has fielded thousands of complaints from Sikhs about workplace discrimination and racial profiling.

With their turbans and long beards, Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims or Arabs and have inadvertently become targets of anti-Muslim bias in the United States.

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith founded more than 500 years ago in South Asia. It has roughly 27 million followers worldwide, including 500,000 in the U.S.

Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair. Male followers often cover their heads with turbans – which are considered sacred – and refrain from shaving their beards.

22 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • soyousay Aug 8, 2012

    well the media sure has tried hard enough to link him to white supremeists..

    actually it wasn't the least bit hard, zero effort actually...he published his garbage himself

  • ladyblue Aug 8, 2012

    well the media sure has tried hard enough to link him to white supremeists but this dude was working on his own accord and driven by his biased hatred of other humans he couldn't tolerate,and hatred of himself. In all reasoning he planned this as an attention getter and to have police kill him since he wanted to go out with a flair of attention. Too bad he was too cowardly to just wipe himself out and leave those poor peaceful people alone. He had an application he wanted to send to KKK but it never got to that stage, and it could be they wouldn't even have him if he tried..we'll never know He was a weirdo loner with a sick mind.. simple as that..wish i'd see more coverage on the poor famiies than this dude's "unconnection" to the supremeist groups.

  • soyousay Aug 8, 2012

    I notice left wing liberal groups are just as hateful and dogmatic! Down with Chick-fil-A, etc, etc..

    and that tracks to advocating butchering whole groups...how exactly?

  • Mon Account Aug 8, 2012

    "yes it is time to stop these ignorant hate groups but my observing various blogs & websites, I notice left wing liberal groups are just as hateful and dogmatic! Down with Chick-fil-A, etc, etc!!!!!! This nation was founded on personal freedoms; as long as you dont break any laws you have your freedom of speech and rights! Even politicians can lie and distort truth without conscience and we love them the more."
    marek335

    So, you compare 'liberals' ranting about equal rights to someone who killed innocent people. You notice freedom of speech taking place on websites and blogs, yet you say we need to stop these ignorant hate groups? You say this nation was founded on personal freedoms and you get your rights as long as you don't break the law; this, despite the fact that we are adding new laws to restrict rights.

    At least that what it sounds like you are implying.

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 8, 2012

    "I don't know a single liberal who carries a weapon." - Zoey0815


    All the liberals I know own weapons, and some carry. I guess I'm more liberal than conservative, at least on some issues, and I most definitely carry whenever I can. Maybe it's a regional thing. Liberal Southerners are more likely to be pro-gun than liberal Northerners. :)

  • Zoey0815 Aug 8, 2012

    marek335 - you are more in danger of getting hit with a Birkenstock than a bullet by a liberal. I don't know a single liberal who carries a weapon.

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 8, 2012

    "In this case, one doesnt expect to carry in a church/temple" - bombayrunner


    Do Sikhs carry their kirpans in church?

  • JAT Aug 8, 2012

    I just find a bit odd and funny that the KKK makes you fill out an application to join. The YMCA, I get, bu the KKK?

  • marek335 Aug 8, 2012

    yes it is time to stop these ignorant hate groups but my observing various blogs & websites, I notice left wing liberal groups are just as hateful and dogmatic! Down with Chick-fil-A, etc, etc!!!!!! This nation was founded on personal freedoms; as long as you dont break any laws you have your freedom of speech and rights! Even politicians can lie and distort truth without conscience and we love them the more.

  • bombayrunner Aug 7, 2012

    Notice these killers attack where they know poeple will not have a gun? ... cant carry in a 'paid admission' location. In this case, one doesnt expect to carry in a church/temple ... unless its jewish (where someone will likely be carrying due to history).

More...