Live

Watch CBSN Live

Wade Michael Page, accused Wis. Sikh temple gunman, was "gentle and kind and loving" child, stepmother says

Suspect Wade Michael Page, who is accused of the weekend shooting attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where six people were killed and three wounded CBS/FBI via Getty Images

(CBS/AP) OAK CREEK, Wis. - While investigators are looking into possible white supremacist links to Wade Michael Page, the accused gunman who killed six people a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee before being killed in a shootout with police, his stepmother claims the man being described is nothing like the person she remembers, CBS News reports.

Pictures: Suspect in Wis. shooting: "Frustrated neo-Nazi"

Authorities said 40-year-old Page had a criminal record, including convictions for criminal mischief and arrests for driving under the influence. And according to Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, Page was a member of two skinhead bands - including one called Definite Hate.

In a 2007 performance in South Carolina, the group played under a giant swastika flag emblazoned with the face of Adolf Hitler.

"We are looking at ties to white supremacist groups, of course," the FBI special agent in charge, Teresa Carlson, said at a news conference.

In a 2010 interview, Page, a U.S. Army veteran, said he started his other band, End Apathy, because, "the value of human life has been degraded by being submissive to tyranny and hypocrisy that we are subjugated to."

But his stepmother, Laura Page, told reporters Monday night that the emerging portrait of her stepson was unrecognizable.

"He was gentle and kind and loving and a he was a happy person and a happy child. And what happened, God only knows, because I don't," Laura said.

She is divorced from Page's father and said the last time she saw her stepson was Christmas 1999.

"When he lived in Texas with us, he had Hispanic friends and he had black friends. You know, there was none of that," Laura added.

Page was a soldier trained in psychological warfare, last stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., before he was demoted and discharged more than a decade ago for being drunk on duty and absent without leave.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said Page "was in the military from 1992 to 1998. He had a general discharge and he was ineligible for re-enlistment."

Sources tell CBS News that Page bought a 9mm pistol at a store called The Shooters Shop. Manager Eric Grabowski says, "We see a lot of people every day and he didn't stand out if he was in here."

Page bought the gun July 28, just one week before the shooting spree.

According to The Associated Press, Page frequently posted on Internet forums for skinheads and repeatedly exhorted members to take more decisive action to support their cause. Between March 2010 and the middle of this year, Page posted 250 messages on one skinhead site and appeared eager to recruit others.

"If you are wanting to meet people, get involved and become active," he wrote last year. "Stop hiding behind the computer or making excuses."

Detectives cautioned they may never know for sure if the Army veteran was taking his own advice when he opened fire on total strangers in a house of worship during the weekend attack. So far, no hate-filled manifesto has emerged, nor any angry blog or ranting Facebook entries.

"We have a lot of information to decipher, to put it all together before we can positively tell you what that motive is - if we can determine that," Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said on Monday.

Complete coverage of Wade Michael Page on Crimesider

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.