Wade Michael Page, the tattooed white supremacist and former Army soldier police say gunned down six Sikhs in a Milwaukee-area temple before a police officer killed him, spread his message of hate through several rock bands for more than a decade before mounting his bloody rampage Sunday.
Playing guitar and singing in various bands -- including Definite Hate and End Apathy -- in the obscure skinhead punk scene, the 40-year-old Page spewed his lyrics at ear-splitting volume in small underground bars and on independent record labels. In an April 2010 interview with Label 56, the label that carries End Apathy's music, Page described the message behind his songs.
"He was involved in the scene."
- Heidi Beirich, Southern Poverty Law Center
"The topics vary from sociological issues, religion and how the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to," Page said.
White power lyrics, which frequently discuss genocide against the Jews and other minorities, are so violent and twisted that the music is typically available only over the Internet, according to experts. In a song called "Self-Destruct" by End Apathy, Page growls his dismal vision of life in the U.S.
"You betray your dignity for this miserable life,
Suspected Sikh temple shooter described as 'neo-Nazi'
Attack on temple spreads fear among US Sikh population
Gunman in Sikh temple shooting identified as ex-Army soldier Wade Michael Page
Shooting at Sikh temple in Wisconsin leaves at least 7 dead, including gunman
Bystanders, police react to Sikh temple shooting
Sikhism preaches tolerance, good deeds
Refuse to think for yourself, you want to be led."
On End Apathy's MySpace page, band members call their music, “a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.” Other bands on the Maryland-based music label include Force Fed Hate, Final War, Absolute Terror and Spirit of the Patriot.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's intelligence project, said Page had been on the group's radar since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group. She said the group has evidence that Page attended "hate events" around the country.
"He was involved in the scene," Beirich said.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Theresa Carlson said Page was known to law enforcement authorities, but did not give details. Carlson said authorities are interested in learning what role Page's ties to white supremacy played in his attack.
"We are looking at his ties to white supremacist groups," she said.
Page, who served in the military for six years but was never stationed overseas, was a psychological operations specialist and Hawk Missile System repairman. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct award, the National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Parachutist Badge. While stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1998, he was disciplined for being drunk on duty and busted down from sergeant to specialist, sources told Reuters. He was not eligible to re-enlist, the sources said.
Once booted, the Colorado native, who said he began playing guitar at age 13, apparently traveled the country, attending skinhead festivals that may have helped solidify his warped world view. Before his move to Milwaukee, Page was based in Littleton, Colo., from 2000 to 2007, 9News reported. A man bearing the same name was reportedly convicted of DUI in 1999 in Denver. Page was also ticketed for driving without a valid license in 1999, according to 9News.
"I am originally from Colorado and had always been independent, but back in 2000 I set out to get involved and wanted to basically start over," Page said in the 2010 interview. "So, I sold everything I owned except for my motorcycle and what I could fit into a backpack and went on cross country trip visiting friends and attending festivals and shows."
Page moved to Milwaukee earlier this year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Neighbors who lived near Page in South Milwaukee remembered him and his female companion as "hermit-like" people who never said hello.
"He wouldn't even look at you," said Robert Haugle, 31, who lives in the same building where Page lived from early 2012 until April.
He said the pair quietly moved out when a Hispanic tenant moved into the building.
"But they had no stuff, and they didn't have movers, it was really weird," he said. "Just one day they were gone."
David Brown, 62, a retired Navy man who also lived in the building, said the pair had a young child with them. He said Page lifted weights in the basement of the building, as his angry music blasted away.
"I don't think he had any ambition at all, like a drone, like a worker ant doing what he was told to do, going through the drudgery of life," Brown said.
Interestingly, both neighbors said they did not remember Page having tattoos, allowing for the possibility his ink was new.
Page reportedly worked as a truck driver with Granger, Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation, from about April 2006 to August 2010 while living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. An employee at the company told the Daily Mail he left 'involuntarily' but declined to elaborate.
Joseph Rackley of Nashville, N.C. told the AP on Monday that Page lived with his son for about six months last year in a house on Rackley's 3 acres of property. Wade was bald and had tattoos all over his arms, Rackley said, but he doesn't remember what they depicted. He said he wasn't aware of any ties Page may have had to white supremacists.
"I'm not a nosy kind of guy," Rackley said. "When he stayed with my son, I don't even know if Wade played music. But my son plays alternative music and periodically I'd have to call them because I could hear more than I wanted to hear."