Edwards said Page, who lived in a neighboring community, served in the military from 1992 to 1998, received a “general discharge” and was “ineligible for reenlistment.” A Pentagon official said Page rose to the rank of sergeant before being demoted to specialist and leaving the Army. News agencies reported that Page, who was never posted overseas during his six years of service, was discharged for being drunk on duty and other unspecified misconduct.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that monitors hate groups, Page was a “frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.” He had been “part of the white power music scene since 2000,” when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle, attended white power concerts in several states and played in a variety of “hate rock bands,” the center said, citing a 2010 interview Page gave to a white supremacist Web site about his latest skinhead band, “End Apathy.”
Edwards said Page shot the first police officer to arrive on the scene eight or nine times at close range with a handgun after the officer went to render aid to a victim of the shooting he found in the temple’s parking lot. The shooter also fired at two police cars and disobeyed commands to drop his weapon before an officer fatally shot him with a squad rifle, the police chief said.
He identified the wounded officer as Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, a 21-year veteran of the department. Murphy is in critical condition, Edwards said.
At the White House, President Obama was asked after a bill-signing ceremony whether he would pursue gun-control measures in the wake of the temple attack.
“We’re still awaiting the outcome of a full investigation,” he told reporters, adding that “all of us are heartbroken by what happened.”
Obama said such events happen with “too much regularity.” He said he would “examine additional ways to reduce violence” but stopped short of calling for new gun-control laws.
Referring to reports that the gunman may have been motivated by racial hatred, Obama said: “Regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or where we worship, we’re all one people.”
Because Sikh men typically wear turbans, they are sometimes mistaken for Muslims or Arabs, although they are neither.
Police said five Sikh men and one woman ranging in age from 39 to 84 were killed in the shooting rampage. Three other Sikhs were injured, and two are in critical condition, Edwards said. One was treated for an unspecified injury and released, he said.