Washington: A bald white man, with a 9/11 tattoo on one arm, who killed six worshippers at a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin has been identified as a 40-year-old US Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist.
The gunman identified as Wade Michael Page gunned down six worshippers inside the gurdwara in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek and then shot the responding police officer eight to nine times before he was killed by police, officials said at a press conference Monday.
Page walked into the gurdwara Sunday and opened fire with a 9mm handgun as several dozen people prepared for morning services, said Oak Creek police chief John Edwards.
The victims were described by officials as five males and one female, ranging in age from 39 to 84. Three others were wounded, including 51-year-old veteran police officer Brian Murphy, who remains in critical condition.
Officials said there is no reason to believe anyone other than Page was involved. But the US domestic investigating agency FBI showed a photo of a “person of interest” whom they want to question in the probe.
The unidentified man showed up at the scene after the shooting and looked “suspicious,” Edwards said, according to Fox News. The man left before police could interview him.
FBI Special Agent in Charge, Teresa Carlson, said a motive is still under investigation, and noted that authorities are looking at Page’s “ties to white supremacist groups”.
Carlson said the shooting is being investigated as a “possible act of terrorism”. She said the suspect “had contact with law enforcement in the past”, but said there was no reason to believe he was capable of such violence.
Fox News citing sources close to the investigation said Page served at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the psychological operations unit in 1994, and was last stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The channel said Page enlisted in April 1992 and was discharged from the army in 1998 “under honourable conditions”, which is less than honourable discharge, Fox News said.
Police have received information that the suspect “may have been involved in” the white supremacist movement, Edwards was cited as saying by CNN. But he added it remains unconfirmed.
CNN said two neighbours of Page identified him in photos that showed him playing in the far-right punk band “End Apathy”, and the nephew of the slain president of the Sikh temple said the attacker had a 9/11 tattoo on his arm.
Earlier, the FBI said that it had not determined a motive for the Sunday morning shooting and that investigators were looking into whether the attack might be classified as domestic terrorism.