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Sikh temple shooting suspect identified

This undated photo provided by the FBI on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 shows Wade Michael Page, a suspect in the Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 Sikh temple shootings in Oak Creek, Wis. (AP Photo/FBI)

This undated photo provided by the FBI on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 shows Wade Michael Page, a suspect in the Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 Sikh temple shootings in Oak Creek, Wis. (AP Photo/FBI)

OAK CREEK, Wis. — The suspect in the shooting rampage that left six people dead and three wounded at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday has been identified as Wade Michael Page, law enforcement officials announced Monday.

Page, 40, an Army veteran who served from 1992 until 1998, was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center said they had been tracking Page for about a decade because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and described him as "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band."

They said Page played guitar and sang vocals for a band started in 2005 called End Apathy.

''This guy was in the thick of the white supremacist music scene and, in fact, played with some of the best known racist bands in the country," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center. "The music that comes from these bands is incredibly violent and it talks about murdering Jews, black people, gay people and a whole host of other enemies. It is music that could not be sold over the counter around the country."

Page, who has a 9/11 tattoo on his left shoulder, was living in a rented apartment in Cudahy, about five miles from the sprawling Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee. He was shot by police after he fired several shots at a police officer tending to one of the victims, officials said.

Police Chief John Edwards of Oak Creek did not give a motive for the shooting, which is being treated as an act of "domestic terrorism."

Edwards, speaking at a news conference, also identified the victims, five men and one woman, who ranged in age from 39 to 84. Three others were wounded during the shooting and are in critical condition at a local hospital.

The victims were identified as Sita Singh, 41, Ranjit Singh, 49, Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, Prakash Singh, 39, Paramjit Kaur, 41 and Suveg Singh, 84.

The gunman, carrying a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, entered the temple at about 10:15 a.m., police officials said, and began firing at priests gathered in the lobby.

He then stalked through the temple as congregants, including women preparing a meal for services, ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls. They made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold.

Jatinder Mangat, 40, who was on his way to the temple when he heard reports about the shooting, said he had tried to call his uncle, the temple's president, but reached the head priest, Gurmail Singh, instead.

''He was crying. Everyone was screaming," Mangat said. "He said that my uncle was shot and was lying on the floor and asked why you guys are not sending an ambulance and police."

Singh, he said, had locked himself in a bathroom with four other people, including two children.

Surjit Singh Toor, 60, said his sister-in-law, Parminder Kaur Toor, 61, was one of the women in the pantry. "She keeps crying and crying. She had to walk over the dead bodies. These were her friends."

Edwards, the police chief, described the first minutes after police responded to the multiple 911 calls that started at 10:25 a.m. He said the first police officer on the scene was tending to a wounded person in the parking lot when the suspect stood over him and fired eight or nine shots at close range, striking him in the neck.

The officer, Brian Murphy, 51, is in critical condition following surgery at a nearby hospital, Edwards said. He said Murphy was a 21-year veteran of the department. He waved on officers trying to assist him in the parking lot to go first into the temple to check on victims there, the police chief said.

Edwards said when the other officers arrived on the scene, they initially did not know that one of their officers had been wounded. They spotted the suspect in the parking lot and ordered him to drop his weapon.

The suspect responded by firing at patrol cars, shattering the windshield of one. Edwards said the officers "returned fire, putting the individual down."

The mayor of Oak Creek, Steve Scaffidi, said Sunday was a "tragic day for our city."

''My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims," Scaffidi said.

He added that Oak Creek was an open, diverse community.

''The Sikh community is what helps make our city strong," he said.