The Lookout

Sikh temple shooting suspect identified as former U.S. Army soldier Wade Michael Page

Page (FBI handout)

The man suspected of opening fire on Sunday in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., was identified by police on Monday as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old former member of the U.S. Army.

Seven people were killed, including the suspected gunman, in Sunday's shooting. The six victims identified by police—five men and one woman—ranged in age from 39 to 84.

According to Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards, Lt. Brian Murphy, a 51-year-old officer was the first to arrive at the temple shortly after 10:25 a.m. Sunday. He began to render aid to one of the victims in the parking lot when he was "ambushed," Edwards said at a news conference on Monday.

Murphy was shot eight or nine times at close range with a handgun, Edwards said. Two other officers exchanged gunfire with Page after they arrived, Edwards said, killing him. The officers then found Murphy in the parking lot. "He waved them off, and told them to go into the temple to assist those in there," Edwards said.

Murphy was carried to a squad car and rushed to Milwaukee's Froedtert Hospital where he underwent surgery. Three shooting victims, including the officer, are listed in critical condition at the hospital. Murphy--a 21-year veteran of the force--was wearing a bullet proof vest when he was shot, Edwards said. He is expected to make a full recovery.

"There is no doubt in my mind the heroic actions of out police officers prevented an even greater tragedy," Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said.

Meanwhile, the FBI is seeking to identify a man with a 9/11 tattoo who was seen in the parking lot of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek following Sunday's shooting. The man, described by police as a "person of interest," appeared to be taking video of the scene on his cellphone.

A man with a 9/11 tattoo looks at his phone outside the temple in Oak Creek, Aug. 5, 2012. (Journal Sentinel)Editor's note: Anyone with information on the man in the photo above is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

A U.S. Army spokeswoman told Yahoo News that Page served from April 1992 until October 1998 as a member of the psychological operations unit. He was never deployed, but was awarded numerous medals, including two for good conduct and one for humanitarian service. Page, a Colorado native, received basic training in Fort Sill, Okla., moved to Fort Bliss in Texas and finished at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

A psychological operations specialist is "primarily responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of intelligence used for information and psychological effect," according to the U.S. Army website.

Officials believe the 9 mm handgun used by Page was purchased legally in Wisconsin, U.S. Attorney James A. Santelle said.

[Also read: Was the Sikh temple shooting domestic terrorism?]

Page was discharged from the army in 1998 for "patterns of misconduct," according to CNN, citing a Pentagon official. The U.S. Army spokeswoman would not confirm or deny the CNN report. Edwards said it was a "general discharge" and that Page was "ineligible for re-enlistment."

Sources told ABC News the suspect was a "white supremacist" or "skinhead." And officials told NBC News he had "some kind of radical or white supremacist views," but was apparently not a member of any kind of radical organization. His past run-ins with law enforcement were described as minor.

Page (MySpace)

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page "was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band." The band, called End Apathy, formed in 2005. According to the group's MySpace page, its music "is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress."

The Montgomery, Ala.-based law center said it had been tracking Page since 2000, when he "attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, then America's most important hate group."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Page is believed to have worked as a truck driver between 2006 and 2010 while living in Fayetteville, N.C. An employee at Barr-Nunn Transportation, the Granger, Iowa-based trucking company Page worked for, said he left "involuntarily" but declined to elaborate.

No motive for the shooting has been released. Police searched Page's apartment in Cudahy early Monday looking for clues, Reuters reported.

There were initial, unconfirmed reports of multiple shooters and a hostage situation, though police said they believe Page was the lone shooter. Tactical units performed a three-square-mile grid search of the area around the temple.

[Slideshow: Sikh temple shooting: Images from the scene]

Members of the temple described the gunman as a tall male with what appeared to be "a 9/11 tattoo." Officials told NBC News late Sunday that the suspect had many tattoos, and Page's neighbors in Cudahy confirmed that description.

"The community is still in shock," Scaffidi said Monday. "We will recover from this."

Law enforcement officials are treating the case as an "act of domestic terrorism," police said, and the FBI is leading the investigation.

Sunday's shooting came less than a month after the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre, where 12 people were killed and 58 wounded during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Sikhism is a 500-year-old monotheistic faith with about 27 million followers worldwide. Since 9/11, there have been more than 700 reports of hate-related incidents against Sikhs in the United States, according to the Associated Press. "Sikhs don't practice the same religion as Muslims," the AP noted, "but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say."

In Indian Kashmir, which has a large Sikh community, protesters blocked a national highway on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported, brandishing banners calling for stronger U.S. gun laws.