Earlier, Edwards said police were investigating reports that the shooter, who was white, may have harbored extreme racial views.
The Southern Poverty Law Center published on its Web site a photo of a man it said was Page, with a symbol commonly used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis tattooed on his left shoulder.
A Defense Department official said Page trained at Fort Sill, Okla., and served at Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Page worked as a repair technician for the Hawk missile system and later was detailed to Psychological Operations as a specialist, the official said.
Sunday’s mass shooting shocked the close-knit Sikh community and horrified Americans of all backgrounds, coming just two weeks after a deadly movie-theater rampage in Aurora, Colo., in which a gunman killed 12 people and injured 58. James Holmes, 24, has been charged in that massacre.
Volunteers had gathered early at the the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, as they do every Sunday, to prepare Indian comfort food to nourish the faithful: lentils, yogurt, and rice pudding. It’s a ritual of inclusion that, according to those who return over and over, helps make Sunday prayers feel like a large family reunion.
“You feel like this is the safest place around,” said Kirandip Jawanda, 21, a data specialist at a local hospital.
But on this Sunday, terrified cooks and other early arrivers were forced into hiding after shots and screams broke their morning peace. Police said the gunman entered the temple and sprayed automatic-weapon fire, killing four people inside the building and two more outside.
In the news conference Monday, Edwards, the police chief, said the first 911 call about the shooting was received from inside the temple at 10:25 a.m. Sunday and that officers responded “within minutes.” He said Murphy, the first officer on the scene, “came upon a victim in the parking lot” and went to help the person. “He was met by the suspect, who basically ambushed him around his vehicle” and opened fire with a handgun while the officer was tending to the victim, Edwards said.
He said other officers arriving on the scene were initially unaware that one of their own had been shot. After fatally shooting Page, police found Murphy, who “waved them off” as they approached him and told them to go into the temple to assist the victims there, Edwards said.
He said it then took a long time to clear the scene because police initially did not know whether any other shooters were inside. They concluded that Page acted alone, Edwards said.
Police said a 41-year-old woman, Paramjit Kaur, was among those killed in the temple shooting. The other fatalities, all men, were identified as Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Satwant Singh Kaleka, 62; Prakash Singh, 39; and Suveg Singh Khattra, 84. Singh is a common surname for men in the Sikh religion.