The details coming out in the aftermath of the Sunday’s tragic shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin are just as grim and terrifying as folks expected. Wade Michael Page, the identified shooter, was not just a 40-year-old military veteran before he shot and killed six people gathered at a Wisconsin temple. He was also being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, who’d long ago identified him as a member of white supremacist circles, including as a band leader of a group called End Apathy.
Page gave an interview to a white supremacist website in 2010, and told them he’d been part of the white power music scene since 2000, until he formed his band in 2005 with the goal of ending his own and others’ apathy. Prior to his white supremacist ties, Page was an enlisted Army man who joined the military in 1992 and was discharged in 1998, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
But on Sunday, Page turned his gun on American Sikhs who were gathering for Sunday services. He killed six people before a police officer shot and killed Page.
In the wake of Sept. 11 Sikhs have become the target of bias-based attacks. Sikhs, who wear turbans and beards, are often confused as being Muslims by Westerners primed by islamophobic media reports. This hate-fueled ignorance has led to over 700 reported acts of hate crimes against Sikhs, CNN reported.
American Muslims, for their part, have come out in support of affected Sikhs. “The civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that American Muslims ‘stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters in this time of crisis and loss. We condemn this senseless act of violence, pray for those who were killed or injured and offer sincere.”
Authorities have said they are investigating the attack as a an act of domestic terrorism, instead of a hate crime alone.