FBI: Temple gunman shot himself; still no motive

MILWAUKEE (AP) — There’s no trial to prepare, no jury to persuade, no judge to hand down a sentence.

Wade Michael Page is dead, having shot himself in the head after killing six people at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee. Although detectives have interviewed more than 100 people, combed through Page’s email and recovered hundreds of pieces of evidence from his residences to the temple, their findings might never be presented in court.

Federal investigators are developing theories but also may never know for certain why he chose to attack total strangers in a holy place.

“We’re trying to piece together, and eventually we will piece together as much as we can,” said Steven Conley, assistant agent in charge of national security for the FBI in Milwaukee. “We will have a good idea of the motive by the time this investigation is done. But again, why that building, that temple, at that time, that may have died with Page.”

At the moment, detectives are sifting through the gunman’s life, assembling the biography of a man who apparently had few relatives, a spotty work history and a thin criminal record. The FBI’s special agent in charge in Milwaukee, Teresa Carlson, said investigators haven’t linked anyone else to the attack or found any kind of note left by Page.

Still, the Sikh community holds out hope.

“We just want to get to the bottom of what motivated him to do it,” said Amardeep Singh, an executive with the New York-based Sikh Coalition. “It’s important to acknowledge why they lost their lives.”

Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran, opened fire with a 9 mm pistol at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shortly before Sunday services. The dead included temple President Satwant Singh Kaleka, who was shot as he tried to fend off Page with a butter knife.

Page shot a responding police officer at least eight times in the parking lot before another officer wounded him. Police initially said the officer killed Page, but Carlson said Wednesday that Page shot himself in the head after he was hit and died of that wound.

A native of Littleton, Colo., Page had a record of minor alcohol-related crimes in Texas, Colorado and North Carolina. He was demoted during a stint in the Army for getting drunk on duty and going AWOL before he was discharged in 1998. Page eventually moved to Wisconsin, living in South Milwaukee with a girlfriend and working third-shift at a brazing factory in Cudahy, another Milwaukee suburb.

Neighbors said the couple broke up this past spring. Page moved into a Cudahy duplex in mid-July and quit showing up for work around the same time. A few days after he moved into the duplex, he visited a West Allis gun shop and, after clearing background checks, bought the gun he used in the shooting.

The FBI has classified the incident as domestic terrorism, a violent act for social or political gain. The FBI’s Carlson said though investigators have not yet determined what drove Page over the edge or that anyone nudged him along the way, they continue to search to make sure.

Investigators probably will collect all bullets and fragments from the temple and the victims’ bodies to confirm they came from Page’s gun. Detectives also will pore over witness statements to make absolutely certain he was the only shooter, said Joe LeFevre, chairman of the forensic science department at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton.

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